The deal is fully guaranteed, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
Thompson and Cleveland have been trying to hammer out a deal for nearly four months. The two sides were hung up on the dollar amount, with Thompson wanting a max deal that Cleveland didn’t want to give him. Finally, a middle ground has been found.
There was reason to believe that the situation would resolve itself less amicably. In August, when the Cavaliers weren’t willing to give him a max contract, Thompson threatened to take the one-year qualifying offer worth $6.8 million and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. His agent, Rich Paul, told SB Nation that Thompson would not return to the Cavaliers if he had to take that offer.
Thompson declined the qualifying offer in early October and became a holdout as the Cavaliers played through training camp and started the preseason. That helped put some extra pressure on both sides to get something done before the season opener on Oct. 27, and it worked. The Cavaliers’ decision to not withdraw their five-year, $80 million offer following the passing of the qualifying-offer deadline did as well.
It was widely assumed that Thompson would sign a lucrative long-term extension this year, and initial reporting in early July even suggested he had. However, talks between the Cavaliers and Thompson reportedly broke down and eventually reached an impasse. Thompson reportedly was seeking a five-year maximum contract worth around $94 million, but the Cavaliers, wary of a huge luxury-tax payment after signing LeBron James, Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert to large extensions, balked at the time.
Last season Thompson averaged 8.5 points and and 8.0 rebounds in 26.5 minutes per game. Following Kevin Love’s season-ending injury in the first round of the playoffs, Thompson saw his minutes jump to 36.4 per game and responded by upping his points (9.6), rebounds (10.8) and blocks (1.2). He also pulled down an incredible 4.4 offensive rebounds per contest.
Thompson is also the most versatile frontcourt defender on the roster. He can guard big men on the block and can also keep pace with many of the league’s guards if called upon to switch in pick-and-rolls.
While Thompson still doesn’t create his own offense, he and James have learned how to work together on the pick-and-roll. Thompson’s relentless energy and ability to attack the offensive glass makes him a weapon on offense in ways that other non-shooting big men aren’t.
It took longer than anyone expected, but with Thompson’s return, Cleveland is one of the deepest teams in the league and the heavy favorite to win the Eastern Conference.