Cleveland reached free-agent deals with shooting guard Anthony Parker — a gifted defender and perimeter player — and re-signed power forward Anderson Varejao to a six-year deal worth $50 million, according to several media outlets.
Parker, 34, is a two-time Euroleague MVP who averaged 10.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists last winter for the Toronto Raptors. He has played for Toronto, Philadelphia and Orlando during a six-year NBA career; the latter three coming after he honed his skills from 2000-06 in Israel and Italy.
The 6-foot-6, 215-pounder — best known as the older brother of WNBA star Candace Parker — also shot .834 from the foul line and .390 on 3-pointers. His quick footwork gave many small forwards fits, including Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, who played off the ball much of the time while Parker was defending him.
Parker’s athleticism and length gives Cleveland the ability to shift the 6-3, 180 Delonte West to the bench, where his bulldog-like tenacity and smaller build is seen as a better fit by some league observers.
Terms of the contract were unavailable, but are believed to average around $5 million per season.
Varejao’s agent Dan Fegan confirmed the power forward’s deal Wednesday night, adding that several teams were willing to offer Varejao contracts that averaged $10 million a season.
“Andy wanted to stay in Cleveland,” Fegan said. “He feels there is unfinished business — to win an NBA championship.”
In addition to the Parker and Varejao deals, the Cavs are guaranteed to be writing a check for $13.71 million in the coming days.
That huge figure is the penalty the franchise has to pay the NBA office by July 22 for exceeding the league-wide “luxury tax” threshold of $71.15 million.
In all, seven teams have been assessed with a bill, forcing them to pay a punitive luxury tax of $1 for each $1 they were over the limit for the 2008-2009 season.
The unlucky seven are New York ($23,736,207), Dallas ($23,611,661), Cleveland ($13,707,010), Boston ($8,294,664), the world champion Los Angeles Lakers ($7,185,631), Portland ($5,899,356) and Phoenix ($4,918,136).
The balloon payment will not affect the team’s ongoing pursuit of Portland Trail Blazers power forward Channing Frye.
Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert has repeatedly said — as recently as his June 3 season-ending press conference — that he is willing to spend whatever it takes to win a championship.
Gilbert again has put his money where his mouth by making 2009-10 salary commitments of $68.3 million, which is well above the upcoming cap of $57.7 million — and on the verge of next year’s luxury tax threshold of $69.92 million.
“We’re in a unique position here because our ownership has shown it is willing to do whatever is possible to help us achieve our goal,” general manager Danny Ferry said following the acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal and his $20 million contract from Phoenix.
“That presents us with a lot of opportunities that other teams don’t have, which is why we’re still in a position to make some moves to better our team in free agency.”
Despite being a willing spender, the Cavaliers were left out of the latest round of power forward signings Wednesday.
Antonio McDyess spurned the team for the second time in nine months by agreeing to join the Spurs, while Shawn Marion is headed to Dallas via a sign-and-trade deal that also involves Memphis.
McDyess’ contract is for the full mid-level exception of $5.854 million, as was the pact inked by Pistons power forward Rasheed Wallace with Boston.
Frye is said to be strongly considering an offer from the Suns, where he would be in a no-pressure situation on a rebuilding team, which would not be the case here.
Say it ain’t so
Contrary to what was reported Wednesday by two Cleveland television stations, the NBA salary cap for 2010-11 has not been set, nor will it be until July 7 next year.
It is expected to drop between $3-5 million for James’ free-agent summer — helping the Cavaliers’ ability to retain him by a negligible amount — but could hold steady or increase if the economy takes a positive turn in the coming months.
Though the formula used by the league and its players association to determine the salary cap is downright incomprehensible, it is largely based on ticket sales and team-based revenue.
That local element to the cap is the reason why the NBA claimed a 2.5 percent gain in league-wide revenue this past season, yet the salary cap for next year dropped from $58.68 million to $57.7 million (down 1.7 percent). Teams are required to spend at least $43.275 million next season under terms of their collective bargaining agreement.
Notes and news
- O’Neal has narrowed his new nickname down to two choices — The Big Witness and Shaqalier — and is asking fans to vote for their favorite on cavs.com. The Big Witness held a commanding 61 percent to 39 lead as of Thursday morning.
- Auditions for the Cavalier Girls dance team will be held July 18 at Lakewood St. Edward High’s gymnasium. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. All applicants must be 21 or older by Nov. 1, either have a job or be enrolled in college, and be able to attend practice sessions and games during the season. They also must bring a 4×6 photo and pay $20 on the day of the audition to try out, and wear a two-piece outfit with “flesh colored tights/hosiery,” a top “that shows your midriff,” and “briefs or hot shorts … no pants,” according to the tryout form.
Contac Brian Dulik at email@example.com.