The Cavs have been quiet in free agency thus far, which was to be expected. Without cap space to spend they were never going to be in the market for the big-name players. With restricted second-tier free agents like Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao, the game is going to have to play out for a little bit. Here's some things to chew on:
--The Andres Nocioni watch is in full effect and it involves Anderson Varejao. The Chicago Tribune, which has been all over this story, is reporting the Bulls are still the front-runners to keep Nocioni despite the Memphis Grizzlies' serious sales pitch. Supposedly, the Argentinan media is reporting el Chapu has been offered $46 million over five years by Memphis. That may be in error, because the Tribune says Nocioni may be ready to take a $38 million deal with the Bulls.
There is wide-spread speculation that if the Grizzlies fail to get Nocioni, they will target Varejao. This is probably true. Here is the thing, it would be hard to believe Varejao would get the same offer as Nocioni because he's an energy rebounder, not an offensive threat in addition to a talented defender like Nocioni. Even if Varejao gets a deal that averages $7-$8 million, it seems the Cavs will likely match even if it is a bit of an overpay. That is the life of restricted free agents. By the way, I still stand by my story that Varejao's representation have told people he has an offer (solid or not, on paper or not) over the mid-level exception of around $6 million to start.
--Expect Cavs GM Danny Ferry to let the process play out with Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic. Last year, he waited all summer on Drew Gooden. Gooden didn't get an offer sheet and ended up signing a very reasonable contract. If the Grizzlies don't make Varejao a big offer, he may have to do the same thing so and Ferry may wait. If Memphis or another signs him to a sheet, the Cavs will take their time in thinking about it while other free agents may dry up. As for Sasha, there doesn't seem to be much action at all going on with him right now. In judging the market, I'd say he ends up signing for somewhere between what Matt Carroll (6 years, $27 million) and Jason Kapono (four years, $24 million) signed. Unless he gets an offer sheet, which is a possibility but as yet no major suitors have emerged, his market is probably a deal starting between $3-$4 million per season. Then again, I could be wrong.
--Keep an eye on Juan Carlos Navarro, a Spanish guard who surprised some this week when he cut a deal with his Euro team, FC Barcelona, to come to the NBA. I saw Navarro play last summer in Japan and I was impressed with him as shooter, both from mid and long range. If memory serves, he played shooting guard mostly for Spain because Jose Calderon and Sergio "Spanish Chocolate" Rodriguez were running the point. But he ran the offense at times, I think. Here are the stats.
The Washington Wizards own his rights and have since 2002, but he's a second-round pick and not subject to rookie salary scale. It sounds like this came as a surprise to the Wizards, too. So here is the thing, based on my understanding of the salary cap, if the Wizards want to sign Navarro to something more than the minimum salary (and he's not coming over for $400,000, folks) they will have to use a piece of their mid-level exception. Considering they also want to re-sign DeShawn Stevenson, whom they don't have Bird rights to, it seems hard to believe they can do both. Which is why there are rumors the Wizards are listening to offers to help in the decision. The Cavs may have interest in both Navarro and Wizards' restricted free agent Andray Blatche, whom the Wizards have partial Bird rights to so they won't have to use part of the exception with him. So it wouldn't be surprising if the Cavs and Wizards had some talks over this issue. The Wizards seem to be looking to move Etan Thomas and/or Brendan Haywood. Thomas has a bad contract and good relations with head coach Eddie Jordan while Haywood has a good contract and bad relations. Just stuff to chew on.