LeBron James: Cavs' No. 1 priority should be locking in Tristan Thompson

ByBrian Windhorst ESPN logo
Friday, August 14, 2015

SANDUSKY, Ohio -- LeBron James praised the Cleveland Cavaliers front office for its moves this summer but stressed the team needs to get restricted free agent Tristan Thompson re-signed.

"Our No. 1 objective right now is to sign Tristan," James said Thursday at Cedar Point amusement park. "He's a huge part of our team. Short term and long term he makes our team more dangerous."

Thompson and the Cavs' talks turned contentious this week when Thompson's agent, Rich Paul, said Thompson would not play for the Cavs after this upcoming season if the team forces him to accept a one-year qualifying offer of $6.8 million.

Thompson and the Cavs broke off talks on a long-term deal in July. Thompson has been looking for a five-year maximum deal worth $94 million or a number close to it. The Cavs' offers have been for less.

Paul also represents James and attended the event Thursday for James' foundation. Paul declined to comment on the progress of the talks.

"Things need to be worked out from his side and the Cavs, but we need him back," James said. "I think our front office has done a great job this summer. The next step is to get Tristan done."

The Cavs have re-signed James, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert and James Jones this offseason to contracts totaling more than $200 million in guaranteed money. They also brought in veteran free agents Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson.

For the first time Thursday, James discussed the meeting he had with Love in Los Angeles just two days before Love agreed to a five-year, $110 million deal with the Cavs.

"He wanted to have a sit down with me and talk about everything," James said about the meeting. "He wanted to talk about the season, what could happen with the team going forward. I was absolutely open to it. I was one of the people that wanted him there when we made the trade last summer. The fact that he committed to us let me know the type of guy we have."

In a video earlier this summer on The Players Tribune website, Love said he requested the meeting because he needed to get on the same page as James before signing. Love was encouraged by the talk, and it helped him finalize his decision.

"We just talked everything out, and a lot of stuff was very honest, and we came to a really good place, and we agreed on a lot of things," Love said. "So I think that was also a very big deal when, you know, you're talking to the best player in the world."

James said that he's expects Love to rebound from surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder after getting hurt in a playoff game last April against the Boston Celtics. James also said he expects more of Love's personality to come out after discussing what his role needs to be on the team.

"I think he's going to be great for us," James said. "I think he'll be an All-Star this year. And a much more vocal part of team this season."

Thursday was a big day for the LeBron James Family Foundation. He announced that he and the University of Akron will sponsor full scholarships for the 1,100 children currently in his I Promise program in Akron, Ohio.

James' has been sponsoring this program for five years and the children range from the third to the seventh grades. If they complete the program and meet attendance and grade requirements, their tuition will be covered by James' foundation and the university starting in 2021, when the current seventh graders in the program graduate high school. A year's tuition at the University of Akron is currently about $9,500.

As part of the announcement, the university renamed its College of Education after James' foundation.

"I think it's probably one of the best things I've ever been apart of," James said. "This is very special to me. As a kid growing up in the inner city and as an African American kid, you don't really think past high school because it's not possible or your family can't support you. For us to be able to do something like this ... it means so much."

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