CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers may be making some “big” decisions in the coming weeks.
A league source said power forward Anderson Varejao could sign an offer sheet from the Memphis Grizzlies that will pay him more than the mid-level exception, which is expected to be between $5.5 million and $6 million.
However, the Grizzlies, who have slightly more than $8 million to spend, also are reportedly courting Chicago’s Andres Nocioni, so there’s a chance the Cavs could get lucky and spend only mid-level money to retain Varejao.
Using $7 million as a starting point and factoring in the maximum 8 percent annual raise allowed for a potential five-year contract, Varejao’s potential deal with Memphis would be worth slightly more than $41 million.
The Cavs would have the right to match that offer and almost certainly would, but they are not thrilled with the idea of paying Varejao, a reserve, more than starting power forward Drew Gooden, who will make $6.4 million next season.
For that reason, the source said, the Cavs have been listening to offers involving big men Varejao, Gooden, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Donyell Marshall.
This doesn’t mean general manager Danny Ferry wants to trade one of them — it means he’s exploring all options when it comes to improving his Eastern Conference championship club and keeping its salary structure in line.
Ilgauskas, who has given subtle hints he will retire when his current contract expires, will make $32.5 million over the next three years, including $10.1 next season. Gooden will make $13.5 million over the next two seasons, while Marshall will earn $11.5 million in the same span.
It’s not exactly shocking news, but the source said the Cavs have been involving veteran guard David Wesley, who is not in their plans at all, in any and all deals. Wesley is slated to make $1.75 million in 2007-08, but not all the money is guaranteed.
Nothing will be done until the Cavs are 100 percent certain Varejao has signed an offer sheet and for how much. The earliest that can happen is next Wednesday.
If Varejao signs a deal that starts at slightly more than the mid-level, it’s highly possible the Cavs will simply match it and keep him, given his potential.
However, if the deal starts in the $7 million to $8 million range, the Cavs may try to work a sign-and-trade for Varejao. That’s where Wesley could come into play, as his contract would allow the Cavs to take back two players whose salaries total more than $11 million.
There’s also the chance the Cavs could match Varejao’s offer, keep him and try to work a deal involving one of their other big men and Wesley. In any trade, Cleveland would probably want a serviceable big man and quality guard in return.
The Cavs also have their own mid-level exception to use and the bi-annual exception, which will be about $1.83 million. If Cleveland uses the latter now, it will not have it next offseason.
Some players the Cavs may pursue include Darko Milicic, Morris Peterson, Steve Blake and Mo Williams, though the latter may get more than the mid-level from another team.
The Cavs will play five games in the NBA Summer League, to be held Friday through July 15 in Las Vegas.
Those expected to participate include Shannon Brown, Daniel Gibson and Dwayne Jones, former Ohio State center Terence Dials and University of Akron product Romeo Travis, who played with LeBron James at Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High.
The rest of the roster consists of Yannick Bokolo (France), Denham Brown (Connecticut), Ryan Covile (Detroit), Boniface N’Dong (Senegal), Kevin Pittsnogle (West Virginia), Darius Rice (Miami), Dijon Thompson (UCLA), P.J. Tucker (Texas) and Matt Walsh (Florida).
Melvin Hunt, an assistant to Mike Brown during the regular season, will serve as head coach.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.