James caused quite a stir on Saturday night when he posted a picture of himself and Thompson at the wedding of a mutual friend with the caption “Get it done!!!!” Some interpreted the picture as him trying to play general manager and forcing the Cavaliers’ hands. But LeBron clarified his stance on Sunday, per ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin:
“It’s kind of like the elephant in the room all over, for everybody,” James said after practice. “Hopefully some resolve can happen sooner than later. You know, obviously, we continue to say, I continue to say how his value to us is extreme, as we saw last year in the postseason, throughout the season.
I’m not here to talk about numbers, things of that nature, because that’s for them, for both sides to figure out. The last thing you need is a distraction when you try to make a championship run. And we have that right now. And it’s unfortunate for both sides that we’re going through it right now as a team. It’s not an excuse, we will be ready to go but hopefully something happens in the near future.”
None of this is surprising. Or untrue. The Cavaliers don’t need Thompson’s absence, or even the threat of him leaving next summer, hanging over their heads as they prepare to contend for a championship. Kyrie Irving isn’t yet fully healthy, and there’s no telling how far along Kevin Love, who is coming off shoulder surgery, will be once the season tips off. Cleveland will also be without Iman Shumpert for a couple months. Starting the year without the team’s fourth-best player, then, isn’t ideal. Likewise, knowing that same player is in uniform but could bolt as an unrestricted free agent next summer, amid a cap explosion, isn’t much better.
The Cavaliers and Thompson failed to reach an agreement by the Oct. 1 deadline, meaning the latter is officially a holdout. Thompson is seeking max money, and the Cavaliers don’t seem willing to pay their fourth banana, a glorified, albeit less athletic, Brandan Wright in many ways, max money. That’s the situation as we’ve known it, and nothing has changed.
Except LeBron’s voice.
The King was wont to stay out of things for a while, but much like us, he probably never imagined negotiations reaching this point, where it’s starting to mess with this season’s plans.
Sooner or later, one side will have to bend. In the event neither party gives an inch, nothing good is going to happen.
Thompson will still more than likely suit up for the Cavs, but the bad juju this protracted and unproductive standoff creates will also linger, becoming an unnecessary storyline for a Cleveland team that, by default, is already tethered to enough headlines.