Thursday, December 06, 2007

Anderson Varejao and the Future

I'm quite pleased to how this debacle turned out (though I'm not expecting the extra charge calls to propel the Cavs a 10 game win streak). The Cavs keep Varejao for at least next season and they didn't have to really overpay the guy. Like Brian Windhorst says, the ones taking the risk are Anderson Varejao and Dan Fegan:
He will be a free agent in two years and he very well might end up coming out ahead because maybe at that time he will sign the $9-$10 million per season deal he wanted. Maybe Fegan will look smart and collect the massive fee and respect, too. But maybe Andy injures his shoulder again. Maybe he continues to average six points and six rebounds. Maybe the Cavs make a trade that marginalizes his role on the team. He is accepting risk and the third year of that contract is not guaranteed, no matter what you read elsewhere. Which means that he is leaving $8.5 million on the table than if he’d signed the deal with the Cavs. Maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t.
Exactly. If Varejao blows up and becomes a complete player, the Cavs are in a good spot because they'll have the cap space to sign him to a larger deal (if he warrants it). But if Andy doesn't improve and grow, the Cavs aren't going to be stuck paying a flop machine $9 million a season for the following three years.

Over at ESPN, Rich Bucher sided with Varejao and his agent (I am shocked, shocked I say, that ESPN sided against the Cavs in this) and trumpeted their success thusly:
The deal with the Bobcats, meanwhile, is nothing short of a masterstroke for Fegan, who has been publicly vilified by an increasing number of voices as the weeks passed while Varejao sat at home and the Cavs, defending Eastern Conference champions, struggled to stay above .500.
Varejao left more money on the table (and more years), he held out for a month into the season and he looks like a fool for asking for $60 million. I wouldn't exactly call that a masterstroke. To be fair to ESPN (and to give credit when credit is due) Bill Simmons actually praised Danny Ferry:
Kudos to Cavs GM Danny Ferry (now there's something I never thought I'd write) for refusing to pay Anderson Varejao and getting him at a below-market price for two years. Are the NBA GMs slowly getting wiser, or is it just me? Five years ago, somebody would have stupidly given Varejao $50 million. Now he's basically getting $17 million for two years. This is progress, I think.
Simmons also linked to this article by Johnny Ludden at Yahoo! Sports, which says this:

So Anderson Varejao gets his $17 million and a chance to prove he's worth more in two seasons, and the Cleveland Cavaliers get back their floppy-haired, frenetic forward at a below-market cost.

And, for that, even the Cavaliers' rivals should be thankful.

By staring down Varejao's stubborn agent, Dan Fegan, Cavs GM Danny Ferry struck a blow for front office officials everywhere. Ferry didn't just beat one of the league's toughest negotiators -- "Danny Ferry cleaned (Fegan's) clock," said one giddy rival agent -- he prevented Fegan from setting a precedent for other prospective holdout candidates.

Say what you will about Danny Ferry, but I think he's done a pretty good job as Cavaliers GM. While players like Nene, Matt Carroll, Jerome James and countless others (like the entire Sixers roster) received head scratching contracts, Ferry retained his young guys (Gooden, Pavlovic and now Varejao) at team friendly deals. And hey, Ferry wasn't the guy who let go of Carlos Boozer, he's not the guy who traded all their draft picks and he wasn't the guy who traded for Eric Snow. Ya, he signed Larry Hughes, Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall to large deals, but that was A) his first year (week) on the job and B) before the Cavs and LeBron made the playoffs. I doubt he's going to have to overspend that much to lure veterans to play with LeBron anymore.

The Cavs and Ferry haven't blinked in the contract negotiations and this has really set them up nicely in the long term.

If you've gotten your news from the World Wide Leader, you're well aware that LeBron's current contract has a player option for the 2010/2011 season, meaning he'll be around through at least the 09/10 season. In the summer of '10 he has the option to stick around here for another year or sign an entirely new deal in Cleveland or elsewhere.

So this means that the summer of '09 is the offseason before LeBron can walk away. As of right now, the Cavs are looking pretty good for that summer (all contracts from HoopsHype).

Assuming the Cavs don't make any trades, they'll have some cap space to work with as Eric Snow ($7.3 million), Drew Gooden ($7.1 mil), Donyell Marshall ($5.95 mil), Anderson Varejao ($5.7 mil) and Damon Jones ($4.46 mil) all come off the books (the Cavs also hold a $2.6 million player option for Cedric Simmons)- that's roughly $30 million in cap space. Plus, the contacts for Larry Hughes ($13.65 mil), Zydrunas Ilgauskas ($11.54 mil) and Sasha Pavlovic ($4.95 mil) come off the books the following offseason, making all of them 'expiring contracts' for the summer of '09. The Cavs will have roughly $30 million coming off the books plus an additional $30 million in expiring trade assets before LeBron can opt out. Well played Danny Ferry.

So ya, Varejao may have not signed the long term, team friendly deal the Cavs may have wanted. But he didn't sucker the Cavs into a six year monster deal where they'll end up paying $10 million a year for a guy who can't shoot either.

I'm OK with this.


Anonymous said...

Simmons says they're basically paying Varejao 17 million over 2 years. Is this correct? I thought we were essentially paying him 11 over 2 years?

Ben said...

ya, its a $17 million 3 year deal. If he opts out, it's not like the money gets pushed to just two years. it'll be about $11 mil for 2 seasons or however it actually breaks down