Terry Pluto from the Plain Dealer gives us a different kind of Dear John letter:
Your holdout is the longest in the 37-year history of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
OK, it’s not actually a holdout. You are a restricted free agent, meaning you are not under contract or any obligation to report to the Cavs. You can sit from now until eternity.
And you, Anderson Varejao of Santa Teresa, Brazil, will still be under control of the Cavs because they’d have the right to match any offer you receive. Even if you play in Europe for the next 10 years. Even if you sit on the beach for the next 20 years. Even if you hold your breath and wish upon a star and think bad things about the team that wouldn’t mind paying you close to $20 million over the next three years.
Someone needs to remind you that you averaged 6.8 points and 6.7 rebounds last season, your best in three NBA years.In the playoffs, you averaged exactly 6.0 points and 6.0 rebounds.
The Cavs have offered you a deal that begins around 6.0.
Make that $6,000,000. . .
As in $6 million a year. . .
As in about $1 million for each rebound and point you averaged last season. . .
As in a three-year deal worth nearly $20 million. . .
As in what Drew Gooden signed last summer, when he was in your same restricted free-agent position.
Gooden was hoping for more, but suddenly, he said: “Hey, I like playing with LeBron. I like my coach. I really like the idea of having nearly $20 million coming in over the next three years.”
If your agent says that deal is not on the table, tell him to ask for it. You’ll get it.
If your agent says you are a better player than Gooden, think twice. He’s averaging 14.3 points and 10.3 rebounds this season. You are the more gifted defender, he’s the superior scorer. If you break rebounding down per 40 minutes, you both averaged about 12 last season.
The 26-year-old Gooden is only a year older than you. If you really wanted to be an unrestricted free agent, you should have signed the $1.2 million qualifying offer when NBA rules gave you a chance. Then next summer, you could sign anywhere without the Cavs matching, and maybe you would have found a team dumb enough to pay you the $10 million annually that your agent has sometimes asked for.
No doubt, your agent reminds you that you averaged 12 points and 11.3 rebounds when you started six games last season. So may your brother, who was hired by your agent.
But in 20 playoff games, you averaged those 6.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in 22 minutes. Cavs fans love you because you play with such passion. You throw your body in front of hard driving players. You are more than a flopper, you have quick feet and that’s why you led the NBA in drawing offensive fouls. Your unselfishness, your willingness to defend and rebound is perfect for a contending team such as the Cavs.
They do miss you.
But it’s harder for you to put the ball through the basket than to shove all that hair under a skullcap. You are a very good role player, but still a role player who is a 57 percent free-throw shooter and has no reliable inside moves near the hoop.
Andy, talk to Sasha Pavlovic. Ask him if he’s relieved to step out of restricted free agency and sign that $11 million deal (and it could be worth much more) for three years right before the opener. Ask yourself what you are being paid now, and where is this headed?
Think about the relief that would come from a contract such as Gooden’s and playing for a team with LeBron James — then ask yourself if what you’re doing now is worth it.