Las Vegas -- So the Cavs and Kings are at it again with Mike Bibby. As one of the three writers who was swarming all over UNLV to break this story yesterday, I still am not quite sure why this deal broke down. It certainly looked like it was going to happen when both Damon Jones and Drew Gooden were in the gym with the Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof and their entire front office. Let me also pass this along, Danny Ferry really wanted the rights to Luis Scola from the Spurs. I mean really, really, really wanted him. It would also make sense for the Spurs not to hand players to a division rival for nothing but money. Yet, no dice.
The only thing I can think is the Kings just still aren't happy with the package being offered. The Cavs can offer Gooden and expiring contracts (Ira Newble, David Wesley) or they can offer Gooden and a shooter (Jones) or a combination of both. They are still trying to get a third team involved, just as they were for hours and hours back in February, to sweeten the package. With all this talk, my gut tells me this probably gets done at some point in the future. They aren't going to give up now.
On the Anderson Varejao front, one league executive told me yesterday: "This is going to be one to watch." He meant for entertainment value, in a sick, detatched way. Andy's agent, Dan Fegan, is looking for the big score. I'm talking about something like $9-$10 million a year. I believe the Cavs are offering something much closer to $6 million a year. You don't have to be a math major to know that is a wide gap. The Cavs will not pay it and, because Varejao is restricted and no teams who want Varejao have cap space left, they will not have to pay it. They do not have to do a sign-and-trade for it if they don't feel like it, either. Here's the thing, though, Fegan does not like to compromise. He may rather have Andy play out a one-year qualifying offer and become unrestricted next summer.
Now, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. First off, because's a second round pick, his qualifying offer is only $1.3 million. Sasha Pavlovic's, for example, is around $4 million. That means Andy potentially would be leaving $5 million on the table just this season alone. This is a guy who has made just $2.6 million over the last three years combined. He may never make up that money. Second, next summer the free agent market is deeper and there are no teams that will have a bunch of money. So if he leaves the Cavs, it very likely would be just for the mid-level exception, which will be around $5.5 million next year. Does that make sense? No, but it does make a point, which is what Fegan might want to do.
Here's something you need to keep in mind that no one is talking about. Andy really, really wants to play for Brazil in next month's FIBA Americas Tournament. He loves playing for the national team and the Brazilians are fighting for one of the two spots in the Olympics next year. With the Americans and Argentines there, they need their best players. Andy can't risk playing without a contract, remember he blew out his shoulder playing for the national team two years ago. I have not spoken to Andy since the season ended, so maybe his feelings have changed. But he's always expressed to me how he wants to make the basketball team as popular as a the national soccer team, when the whole country shuts down to watch. That is probably unrealistic, but Andy always sounded passionate about it. Anyway, that means the contract has to get done in the next few weeks if he wants to play. We'll see...