Cavs’ Thompson declines qualifying offer, still free agent

CLEVELAND (AP) — Tristan Thompson has taken his contract standoff with the Cavaliers to another level.

The backup power forward declined to sign a one-year, $6.8 million qualifying offer for this season and remains a restricted free agent. If he doesn’t show at practice Friday, he’ll be considered a holdout.

Despite optimism from the Cavs and LeBron James that a deal could be reached, Thompson remains at odds with the team over a long-term deal. Thompson had until 11:59 p.m. EDT Thursday to accept the offer, but let the deadline pass and the Cavs chose not to extend it.

An elite rebounder who knows his role, Thompson was a key contributor during Cleveland’s run to the NBA Finals last season, filling in when starter Kevin Love dislocated his shoulder. Thompson and his representatives believe he deserves a maximum contract. And while the Cavs value Thompson, they aren’t willing to go beyond what they’re comfortable offering.

Twice in the past few days James said he was confident the sides could reach a long-term deal. James is also represented by Thompson’s agent, Rich Paul.

Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao went through a similar contract dispute in 2007 before he signed a three-year, $17 million offer sheet with Charlotte that was matched by Cleveland.

"It wasn’t easy for me. I missed the first 21 games if I remember," Varejao said. "But I had to do it back then because I felt like I was disrespected with the offer they offered me. I don’t really know what’s going on with Tristan right now, numbers and stuff, I’m not sure. But I’m pretty confident he will be here soon."

General manager David Griffin expressed optimism Thursday that Thompson would report to training camp.

"We fully expect he’ll be here in some form or fashion and we’re excited to get going," Griffin said on NBA TV. "We’re hopeful that he wants to move forward with his teammates in the same way we want to have Tristan here. If we can come to some agreement we will."