LeBron James has again put public pressure on the Cleveland Cavaliers to re-sign restricted free agent Tristan Thompson, who still doesn't have a deal.
"Our number one objective right now is to sign Tristan," James told ESPN's Brian Windhorst on Thursday. "He's a huge part of our team. Short-term and long-term he makes our team more dangerous."
"Things need to be worked out from his side and the Cavs, but we need him back," he continued. "I think our front office has done a great job this summer. The next step is to get Tristan done."
Thompson and his agent, Rich Paul, have reportedly pushed for a maximum contract throughout the offseason, but Cleveland hasn't budged. The Cavaliers are able to match any contract Thompson signs with another team, and since it's so late in the process, it's unlikely Thompson would sign elsewhere anyway. However, Thompson could sign a one-year, $6.8 million qualifying offer and then become an unrestricted free agent next year, as agent Rich Paul recently threatened.
James' public comments are hardly a surprise considering his sway as the NBA's most powerful player and his friendship with Thompson. The duo also share an agent, and James has said from the start of free agency that Thompson needs to return to the Cavaliers. By bringing it up again, he's reminding Cleveland that they don't want to piss him off.
However, both sides are still posturing at this point. Whether James speaking out will change anything is something to watch over the coming week.