Anderson Varejao has been the bridge — he was there when LeBron was leading the Cavaliers to the Finals before, he is still there as LeBron returns home Thursday night. He wants to stay long term, and maybe more importantly LeBron wants him to stay.
We knew that the Cavaliers and Varejao were talking extension. Now we hear the two sides are closing in on a deal, via Marc Stein of ESPN.
Sources said the Cavaliers and Varejao — one of LeBron James’ most beloved teammates — are closing in on a new three-year deal worth an estimated $30 million that would kick in starting with the 2015-16 season.
Varejao has spent his entire NBA career with the Cavaliers after Cleveland acquired his rights on draft night in 2004. The Cavaliers and Varejao, sources said, have been eager to finalize terms on a new pact before the start of the new season.
That’s a fair price for a quality big man (especially considering the new TV money coming in), and Varejao certainly is one. The Brazilian center is a strong rebounder on both ends of the floor, and he’s a good man defender, is a good passer and plays a smart game. He’s not a real rim protector — I think the Cavs will still need to go get one of those — but he is the kind of glue guy you see on championship teams.
This is also a sign owner Dan Gilbert is willing to spend. Next season he has $53 million already committed to LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love (and that’s before Love opts out and signs a larger free agent deal). The Cavaliers also are negotiating an extension with Tristan Thompson.
With all those big salaries it’s not going to be easy to put quality guys around that core, but no doubt the core will have the Cavaliers contending for the foreseeable future.