The Cavs have matched the contract offer to Anderson Varejao. He will be with the Cavs in a couple of days. After this ordeal there is a bunch of postmortem that will be done. Some are calling Anderson Varejao and his agent, Dan Fegan, the winner. Some are calling Danny Ferry the winner. As someone who covered this as close as anyone and someone who spent an hour talking to Fegan and about an hour talking to Ferry yesterday, I don't think anyone can claim victory. One thing I am darn sure about is anyone calling either side having pulled "a masterstroke" is way off in my opinion. It is simply too soon to know.
About a year and a half ago I was outside the Cavs locker room after a victory at Quicken Loans Arena. People were celebrating a victory, Mike Brown was holding his press conference, and there was a lot of activity but I was focused on something else. I saw Mr. Fegan standing outside the locker room, waiting. At the time, he didn't represent any Cavs, or so I thought. Moments later I found out that Andy had fired Herb Rudoy and hired Fegan. From that moment I knew this contract would be a battle. Not just because Fegan is known as being so demanding and unrelenting, but because I knew way back then that it was going to be tough to put a value on Varejao.
I cannot quote anyone and I am not going to go into heavy details, but I've heard what I believe is about 70-80 percent of the story from both sides now. One of the big issues as to why this took so long was communication. I am not kidding you when I tell you the two sides spent months asking each other for a proposal and each refused to give it. One thing I have learned about Ferry over his dealing with Drew Gooden, Sasha Pavlovic and now Varejao is that he can be extremely rigid. Once he makes an offer or sets a parameter, he doesn't like to move. One might even call him hard headed. Here's what I know about Fegan, he doesn't like to compromise and he is obsessed with winning, which is what he spent yesterday trying to convince the media that he did. I guess he sold a few people on it. There is no doubt that these two men being involved caused the delay as much as anything else. But they are also proving to be very good at their jobs.
For the contract itself, the Cavs did the same thing they did with Gooden and Pavlovic. They refused to get locked into a long deal that would be hard to trade. They didn't. They would have been glad to sign Varejao to a five-year contract at their number. Andy didn't want to be locked into that number, which is fine. Andy wanted to be an unrestricted free agent as soon as possible, which is fine.
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.
So do yourself a favor, don't paint yourself into a corner by taking a strong position on this outcome.
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