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After Tristan Thompson’s deal reported, DeMarcus Cousins tweets: ‘How much???’

DeMarcus Cousins, Tristan Thompson

DeMarcus Cousins, Tristan Thompson


Tristan Thompson agreed to a five-year, $82 million contract ($16.4 million per season) with the Cavaliers yesterday.

Shortly after that news became public, Kings center DeMarcus Cousins – who signed a four-year, $65,619,700 extension ($16,404,925 per season) in 2013 – tweeted:

That tweet is vague enough that Cousins could have been referring to something else. If he was, disregard the rest of this post.

But if Cousins was referring to Thompson and implying shock, it’s misguided.

The Cavaliers were offering $80 million, and Thompson wanted about $94 million. This deal is right in line with where negotiations appeared to be heading.

And $82 million is perfectly reasonable for Thompson – even though he’ll make nearly as much per season as Cousins, a far superior player.

Cousins got a max deal at the time. But with the new national TV contracts beginning soon, the salary cap and player salaries will soar. Thompson just happened to come up for a new deal at a better time than Cousins. This has nothing to do with their comparative worth on the court.

John Wall made a similar complaint about Reggie Jackson, and it’s flawed for the same reason. Jackson isn’t as good as Wall. Jackson was just a free agent at the right time.

There was a simple solution for players like Wall and Cousins who locked into contracts before it became clear salaries would skyrocket: cap smoothing. But the players union rejected that.

I tend to think the union chose correctly on behalf of its members on a whole, though there are unreported details of the NBA’s proposal. Unquestionably, the decision adversely affected some players.

As the Collective Bargaining Agreement is negotiated in advance of a potential 2017 work stoppage, it’s important to remember the battles aren’t just players vs. owners. They’re also players vs. players (and owners vs. owners).

Of course, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts is trying to get her troops on the same page. Intra-union squabble are inevitable, but I think she’d at least like to see players not publicly criticizing – or appearing to criticize – each other’s high salaries.