Brazilian PF Anderson Varejao is re-signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, for a reported deal worth 42.5 million over six years. There is no shortage of people who are happy about this deal. Not many of them are Cavalier fans.
Cavs fans wanted a high profile free agent: Either a big guard who could defend someone like Hedo Turkoglu, or a forward that could stretch the floor and shoot the three. Rasheed Wallace, Trevor Ariza, Ron Artest, Shawn Marion and Lamar Odom were all possibilities. We wanted anyone who could come in and help shore up the team's size deficiencies that were highlighted in the Eastern Conference Finals loss to Orlando.
Ariza and Artest spurned the Cavs to play closer to home. Wallace was never a serious target and Marion is headed to Dallas in a 3-way trade. Only Odom is still available, and the candy man seems unlikely to be interested in playing on the shores of Lake Erie, given his fondness for the sunny beaches of L.A.
The point is that Danny Ferry and the Cavaliers are out of options. With LeBron's impending free agency, and Shaq being a question mark, guys don't want to play in Cleveland.
So they paid for Varejao to return. Overpaid, many people are suggesting. A guy that averaged 8.3 points can't possibly be worth that much. Ferry must be crazy.
The critics of this deal are missing the point. Cleveland has no other option at PF, and there is much more to Varejao than the numbers suggest.
He gets under people's skin, and then he's tough enough to take an elbow to the groin from a frustrated opponent. He flops. He also draws charges. He's an excellent rebounder. He's the kind of player you hate to watch your team play against.
His offensive game is a work in progress, which means he is often alone under the hoop to receive one of LeBron's amazing assists. His developing offense, and burgeoning chemistry with LeBron are also overlooked aspects of Varejao's game. His young, energetic legs should be a perfect complement to the slower Shaquille O'Neal.
If Anderson continues to bring his same energy, toughness, rebounding and scrappy defense every night, it's not such a bad deal, especially considering the lack of options. But if he continues to develop his mid-range jump shot, and gives LeBron a target under the basket, nobody will be questioning this deal a year from now.
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