First it was Sports Illustrated. Now it`s ESPN.com.
Dan Fegan, the agent for Cavaliers holdout Anderson Varejao, has once again found a way to get his client in the news, with the Brazilian power forward granting a rare interview to ESPN Insider`s Chad Ford.
In it, Varejao claims he wants Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry to "show me that he values my contribution to the team. I just want to be treated fairly and I don`t think Danny`s done that."
Varejao, who averaged 6.8 points and 6.7 rebounds last season while leading the league in charges taken in 23 minutes a game, went on to say the animosity between the two sides has reached the point where returning to Cleveland will be difficult.
"I wanted to come back," he said. "I love the fans and I really love my teammates. But there are others there that have made it very difficult. It`s gotten to the point that I don`t want to play there anymore. I`m just hoping for a sign-and-trade at this point."
As he initially did several weeks ago in a Sports Illustrated article, the crafty Fegan reiterated his willingness to have Varejao play for the mid-level exception this season ($5.356 million), but there`s no way the Cavaliers are going to agree to that. Though they would retain Varejao`s Bird Rights and thus be able to offer him more than any other team, the 25-year-old would become an unrestricted free agent if he played this season under a one-year deal.
Varejao is currently a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any multiyear offer he receives from another team. Regardless of whether he sits out the entire season (or the next 10 seasons, for that matter), the Cavaliers will retain his rights - and Varejao will remain a restricted free agent - until he plays at least one more NBA season, so long as Cleveland tenders him an offer each year.
As he could do again next summer if he sits out the entire season, Varejao could have taken a $1.2 million qualifying offer this summer, but he and Fegan turned it down in pursuit of a deal worth more than $10 million a year.
Player and agent now deny they initially sought that much, but Cleveland sources say Fegan`s first proposal, in late September, was for a six-year, $64 million deal. A month later, he lowered his demands to six years and $52 million. Both deals contained a team option but were laced with incentives that would have allowed Varejao to earn more.
The Cavaliers never came close to agreeing to either deal, but sources say every one of their counter-offers started with a salary that would have paid Varejao more than the mid-level exception each and every season. The ESPN Insider piece, by contrast, claimed the Cavaliers` initial offer was for $20 million over five years, with their latest offer being for $32 million over six years.
The ESPN Insider article also quoted Varejao as saying Ferry showed up in Brazil and tried to get him to sign a contract without his agent being present, a point the Cavaliers vehemently deny, though Ferry has admitted going to South America to talk to the power forward.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.