--The impending signing of Devin Brown for the Cavs is a solid one for several reasons. First off, Brown can play three positions and over his career he's defended every position but center. No, he is not great at any of them. He is not a great shooter, great ball handler or super athletic. He is a willing defender and a good character guy, which the Cavs put a high priority on. In addition, he is a good value. He's coming off a career year with the Hornets -- who didn't need him as much after signing Morris Peterson, Jannero Pargo and getting Peja Stojakovic back -- yet the Cavs will not be spending much. From what I understand, he will be making more than the NBA minimum, but less than the Cavs paid David Wesley ($1.75 million) last year. Considering all of that, it is a low-risk signing. In addition, it will give the Cavs depth at the position. It may seem like overkill at the guard spots, but it will give them some additional breathing room there. They may need it.
I know that some fans will contend that Devin Brown is no Mike Bibby and not the impact point guard most feel the Cavs need. I agree with that, but the Bibby deal is gone and Brown is a quality addition. Again, the Cavs are not done working with their roster. They have roster spots open and that is valuable these days. Danny Ferry is still looking to make a major trade, it is very possible the team will look different by midseason.
--Shawn Marion, who has jumped in and demanded a trade from the Phoenix Suns, would potentially be a great fit in Cleveland. He can spread the floor for LeBron James, he plays defense and he's a strong offensive option. In addition, for years the Suns have liked Drew Gooden and went after him last summer. The Cavs also have devices to reduce the Suns payroll, which is always a priority for owner Robert Sarver and seems to often be more important that the talent in Phoenix deals. Plus the Suns would rather trade Marion east. But stop right there before you get ahead of yourself, it probably will not happen. The reason Marion wants out is because he wants an extension, one would assume a max extension, and the Suns don't want to talk. Marion's agent is Dan Fegan, who the Cavs are currently battling with over Anderson Varejao. It would be hard to justify giving Marion a huge extension before you know if he fits but it is also hard to believe the Cavs would put themselves in a position where Fegan could exercise extreme leverage over them. Oh, and one more thing: If Marion isn't happy playing with Steve Nash, one of the greatest distributors of this era, how could he be happy playing with LeBron? Or, for that matter, his stated wish of playing with Kobe Bryant?
--Which brings us to Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic. With the signing of Devin Brown, Pavlovic's role on the team may be in flux, especially if he does something like hold out. Varejao appears to he headed toward taking the qualifying offer, which means he's going to be taking an extreme risk as has been discussed on this board before. Not to mention setting the scene for a potentially stormy season.
This was bound to happen sometime. In a trend story in the Sporting News about NBA restricted free agents threatening to go to Europe, Sasha Pavlovic's agent, Marc Cornstein, makes a half-hearted threat that Sasha may go to Europe instead of taking a qualifying offer with the Cavs. Someone's frustration with the current situation was going public and Sasha's side was the first to blink.
I haven't written here in awhile because, frankly, there was nothing to write about. There still isn't a whole lot because this bluff by Cornstein -- who is a good agent just trying to do his job -- isn't a very good one and the situation is still the same as it was. We'll talk about that in a minute.
Restricted free agency often turns into a mess and for lots of different reasons. If teams pay the asking price they often are chided for overpaying and not letting the market play out. If a team signs a player to an offer sheet and it gets matched the team often looks like a fool. If the player waits until the end and takes the qualifying offer (as might very well happen with both Anderson Varejao and Pavlovic) there are angry vows made and plenty of hurt feelings. Sign-and-trades are very difficult to pull off and sometimes nullify the effectiveness of the entire signing. In fact, last summer's seemingly fair resolution when Drew Gooden signed a market value contract for three years is a rarity.
This is also the time of year unsigned restricted free agents -- the ones the market has passed by due to their status and sign-and-trade deals have gone by the wayside -- get crazy with frustration. Which is why next week there could be fireworks one way or another with Andy and Sasha. Either you're going to see smiling faces with 11th hour deals or you're going to hear very tough talk and threats about walking if they are forced into signing one-year qualifying offers. There's very little chance of it going another than those two directions.
In Sasha's case, he's not going to Europe. First off, his $2.8 million qualifying offer would be the most he's ever made and he's not going to get that overseas. Also, those training camps have already started and he's never played at the top level of Eurobasket and he's not been very good in international competition, either. Not to mention, if he wants to come back to the NBA, he'd still be restricted. The problem with him is the deals swingmen have signed this year are all over the board. Jason Kapono, a great guy for whom I couldn't be happier, got a crazy contract with the Raptors for the full mid-level. Then there were guys like Morris Peterson and Desmond Mason, wing veterans who are more highly regarded than Kapono or Pavlovic, getting around half of that. Then there's a guy like Ruben Patterson, who averaged more points and rebounds than Pavlovic and is a much better defender, and he signed for the NBA minimum. Plus, due to his status, the Cavs would be bidding against themselves for Sasha at this point. I am all for players getting paid, but just why would the Cavs increase whatever offer they have made? It isn't because of the Cornstein threat, I'll tell ya.
Even Charlie Bell, who was a good player in Europe and had a legit offer from a quality European team on the table, couldn't convince the Bucks when he tried the same tactic. It wasn't until his agent, Mark Bartelstein, shrewdly convinced Miami though a media blitz that Bell hated the entire state of Wisconsin, that he got an offer sheet from the Heat. Sasha has no such suitors. By the way, it's been quite a summer for Bartelstein, who sold the Bucks that Mo Williams actually would leave tens of millions on the table to play in Miami rather than Milwaukee. The Bucks raised their offer and suddenly January on Lake Michigan didn't seem so bad to Mo. Gotta love it. Now ask me if I believe Andrei Kirilenko is dropping $63 million (that's um, $1.5 billion rubles by the way) on the table. Yeah, right.
As for Varejao, for him the stakes are higher. His qualifying offer is much lower, just over $1.2 million. If he plays for that my guess is he'll be leaving at least $4 million on the table for this season alone. If he wants to prove his point and vows to walk next summer, the best he is probably going to get is the mid-level exception from a team (ask guys like Stromile Swift and Vlad Radmanovic). It's likely the Cavs are offering him more than that now. So, if I were him, despite his strong desire to land a $50 million contract or whatever, I'd pay attention to what Gooden did and take a three-year deal that will likely increase his net worth by 10 times while still putting him in position to command a massive deal when he's in his prime. But don't ask me, I'm just trying to be objective.