CLEVELAND – The Cavaliers will save some money, while Anderson Varejao will earn the right to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.
Neither side, however, came out a clear winner.
That`s a quick summary of the three-year, $17.4 million offer sheet Varejao signed late Monday with the Charlotte Bobcats, which the Cavaliers will most definitely match in order to retain the Brazilian power forward.
“He`s missed here,” swingman Ira Newble said Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena prior to a game against the New Jersey Nets. “He`s a tremendous young player. He brings a lot to our team – energy, toughness, defense. He was one of the key pieces in the championship push (last season).”
Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry, who said he had not received a copy of the offer sheet Varejao signed with the Bobcats, did not meet with the media.
Cleveland has seven days to match the offer, but will likely take less time than that given its depleted front line.
Ideally, the Cavaliers would have preferred to sign Varejao to a longer deal. They had offered him a three-year, $20 million contract awhile back, but were told by agent Dan Fegan, who did not return phone calls Tuesday, that the 25-year-old would only accept a deal that covered one, five or six years.
However, with talks at a serious impasse, Varejao elected to sign an offer sheet with Charlotte for less money than Cleveland had offered, largely because the third year of the deal is a player option.
That means Varejao, who averaged 6.8 points and 6.7 rebounds a year ago, will earn $11.3 million over this season and next season, with the deal starting at the mid-level exception of $5.3 million. Though he will have missed approximately one-fourth of the season by the time he suits up, the 6-foot-10, 240-pounder will earn the entire $5.3 million this season.
“He`s a talented player and he`s a great guy,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. “I know he`s a hard worker, but I don`t know what type of shape he`s in.”
Asked if Varejao`s holdout could have been avoided given the offer sheet he finally signed with Charlotte, Brown said: “I`m just going to coach the guys who are here. People are obviously going to say this and say that about (Varejao). If I get into all that, for me it`s wasted energy.”
The wild-haired Varejao was one of Cleveland`s most popular players last season, but his holdout did not endear him to area fans, who thought his contract demands – Fegan originally wanted more than $10 million a season over six years – were unreasonable.
Things got so bad Varejao told ESPN Insider`s Chad Ford last week that he no longer wanted to play for the Cavaliers, but that`s exactly what`s going to happen when the team matches the offer.
“I don`t know,” Brown said when asked what type of reception Varejao will get in his first game at The Q. “I hope it`s good.”
The Cavaliers, who are at the maximum 15 players, will have to clear a roster spot when they officially match the offer to Varejao, who was scheduled to arrive at Fegan`s headquarters in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening.
Cleveland would like to trade second-year guard Shannon Brown, but that will be difficult given the fact it did not pick up the option year on his contract, meaning the 6-4, 211-pounder will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. However, the Cavaliers did start the Michigan State product against New Jersey, probably in an attempt to showcase him to the rest of the league.
If the Cavaliers are unable to trade Shannon Brown – or someone else – and are forced to cut a player, it will end up being Brown or rookie Demetris Nichols.
JAMES STILL OUT
LeBron James missed his third straight game due to a sprained left index finger. With the Cavaliers playing in Washington tonight and then being off until Saturday, when they visit Charlotte, it`s likely the 6-8, 250-pounder will sit again vs. the Wizards, which will give him three more days to recover.
“I don`t speculate about those types of things,” Mike Brown said when asked if James` injury ended up being more serious than he thought. “I`ve never been one to tell anybody, â€˜Hey, come back.` I let it play itself out.”
James has a policy of not speaking to the media when he`s not playing. He has not talked to reporters since a win over Boston on Nov. 27.
There`s a belief among many close followers of the league that Charlotte general manager Rod Higgins signed Varejao to an offer sheet in an attempt to gain favor with the hard-bargaining Fegan, who represents two Charlotte players in Matt Carroll and Jason Richardson. Both are under long-term contracts, but Higgins could be preparing to make an offseason run at a free agent Fegan represents.
At any rate, here was Higgins` official statement after signing Varejao to an offer sheet: “Anderson has established himself as a very good player in this league. We look forward to the opportunity to add him to our franchise as we continue to grow and improve.”
Added coach Sam Vincent: “We feel like he`s a guy who can come in and give us some immediate help in the post.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.