By: David Kay
Without downplaying his importance to the Cavs, let me just say this; $50 million over six years is A LOT of money to pay to a guy who has never averaged above nine points per game during his five-year NBA career. But the Cavs were handcuffed in a way considering if they didn’t pony up the money to bring Anderson Varejao back, there were little options for them on the free agent market to find a suitable replacement. (note: reportedly only $42.5 million is guaranteed but the total could reach $50 million if incentives are met.)
Varejao is one of those guys who does all the little things; plays hard on the defensive end, isn’t afraid to dive on the floor for a loose ball, crashes the boards, and sets picks for his teammates without needing to chuck up an 18-footer just to feel as if he is involved on offense. Cleveland had to re-sign him to fill their need for a starting power forward to pair alongside Shaq rather than try to fill that role by offering up their mid-level exception to a temporary fill-in. Since the Cavs are putting all their eggs in the basket this year, winning now is a must; and Varejao increases the chances of bringing home an NBA title despite his hefty cost.
With Shaq, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Varejao all under contract for next season, Cleveland now has some $40 million tied up into three post players; two of which are clearly on the downside of their careers. Yes, the Emperor and Big Z are free agents after the season which will free up about three-fourths of that amount, but still, that’s a lot of money to spend and still not have the best frontcourt in basketball. But I’ll say it again, if you’re the Cavs and you risk losing LeBron James if a championship isn’t won this year, you roll the dice.
Varejao wasn’t the only move the Cavs made on Wednesday. Cleveland is also close to adding a much needed shooter in Raptors free agent guard Anthony Parker. Terms of the deal have yet to be determined, but it is a reported two or three year deal that will net Parker a good part of Cleveland’s mid-level exception.
Parker will serve as an upgrade from the departed Sasha Pavlovic who was dealt to the Suns in the Shaq trade. The former Raptor started all but ten games in his past three seasons in Toronto and could potentially replace Delonte West as the Cavs’ starting two guard. More than likely, Parker will be used as a three-point specialist to come off the bench and provide King James with an effective deep threat. This type of signing was a must as Cleveland had little depth on the wing since they traded Pavlovic and Wally Szczerbiak is a free agent.
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