CLEVELAND — Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess set the financial bar for power forwards, then Anderson Varejao soared right over it.
In a depressed market for free agents, Varejao cashed in big with a six-year, $42.5 million contract from the Cavaliers. The mop-topped Brazilian will be in town today to sign the deal, which runs through the 2014-2015 season.
“From the start of free agency, Anderson made it clear he wanted to be a part of our future and that he loved being in Cleveland,” general manager Danny Ferry said. “Andy has played an important role with our team during that time, and continuity is important to us.”
The first five years are fully guaranteed, and Varejao could earn an additional $7.5 million through incentives — potentially bringing the total value of his deal to a whopping $50 million.
Varejao made a total of $14 million in his first five NBA seasons, all with the Cavaliers. He would have earned $6.2 million next winter, but opted out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time.
Fellow UFAs Wallace and McDyess had established the market value for veteran big men earlier this week, when both inked short-term deals for the full mid-level exception of $5.854 million. Wallace went from Detroit to Boston, while McDyess spurned the Pistons for San Antonio (after receiving interest from Orlando and Cleveland).
The Cavaliers, though, believed the 26-year-old Varejao deserved more money than his much older and much more accomplished peers. He averaged 9.9 points and 7.7 rebounds in 42 starts last season with Cleveland, while his overall averages were 8.6 points and 7.2 boards with a career-high .536 field goal percentage.
“He brings many valued contributions to our team on and off the court, and plays with relentless passion and energy every play,” Ferry said. “He is an elite defender and we want to continue building our strong defensive identity.”
The Cavaliers may also use Varejao’s afternoon press conference to introduce shooting guard Anthony Parker, who agreed to a two-year, $6 million contract Wednesday.
Signing Parker, 34, only required using half of the mid-level exception, leaving Cleveland with roughly $3 million to spend on another free agent. Trail Blazers power forward Channing Frye and Spurs counterpart Drew Gooden are among the candidates.
Mavericks guard Jason Kidd — an Olympic teammate of LeBron James — chimed in on the never-ending James to New York in 2010 speculation, saying, “I would say (no) right now. He’ll stay in Cleveland.”
Kidd made the statement on Dan Patrick’s nationally syndicated radio show, where he also laughed off talk that James would join rap mogul and close friend Jay-Z with the New Jersey Nets.
“To play in Jersey?” he said using an incredulous tone.
Jay-Z is a part-owner of the Nets, who announced plans to move to a $1 billion arena complex in Brooklyn three years ago, but haven’t put a single shovel in the ground in the New York City borough. Their managing partner is Bruce Ratner of Cleveland’s famed Forest City business empire.
John Kuester was formally introduced as the Pistons’ head coach at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The ex-Cavaliers assistant told Detroit reporters that he had signed a three-year contract to take over their Central Division rival. Kuester, who spent the last two seasons on Mike Brown’s staff in Cleveland, ran the club’s much-improved offense in 2008-2009.
(bullet) Former Cavaliers forward Darius Miles, center Chris Mihm and guard Mike Wilks had their rights renounced by Memphis, making them ineligible to re-sign with the Grizzlies. Miles is the only member of the trio to have any success last season, returning from a career-threatening knee injury to become a rotation player.
Sports talk venues were buzzing over a potential trade of Bobcats power forward Gerald Wallace to the Cavaliers, but there were countless reasons why it never would happen.
The most obvious: In order to meet the NBA’s trade rules, Cleveland would have to sign free agent Wally Szczerbiak to a $6.5 million deal — roughly triple his current market value — and send him with J.J. Hickson’s $1.4 million salary to Charlotte.
The Bobcats are trying to shed their bench players’ bloated contracts, not add another in Szczerbiak. Adding to the ridiculous nature, Wallace plays the same position as Varejao and is owed $28.5 million over the next three years.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.