The Cavs are engaged in “serious” talks about an extension with Anderson Varejao, one of the few veterans eligible for one, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. There’s mutual interest, and the conversations between the team and the Dan Fegan client have taken place over the past few weeks, though the sides aren’t on the verge of a deal yet, Wojnarowski writes. There’s no deadline looming at the end of the week as there is with rookie scale extension candidates like fellow Cav Tristan Thompson. Varejao and the Cavs have until June 30th to reach a deal on an extension before the Brazilian big man’s contract expires.
The Varejao talks are cast against the backdrop of the deadline regarding Thompson, and there are conflicting reports about whether Thompson and the Cavs are in talks. There is discussion and the Cavs hope to get a deal done, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, but Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group wrote this weekend that he heard there had been “zero discussion” about an extension for Thompson. Marc Stein of ESPN.com wrote 10 days ago that the Cavs and Thompson were in active negotiations. Varejao beat out Thompson for the a job in the starting lineup for opening night.
The 32-year-old Varejao said recently that he wants to finish his career with the Cavs, and, as Wojnarowski notes, he remains close with LeBron James, with whom he’d been teammates for six years before James bolted for Miami. Those close to Varejao told him when the Cavs were a losing team that he should push for a trade, and the Lakers had interest in a deal that would have taken him to L.A. in exchange for Pau Gasol last year, but Varejao has said he never wavered on his commitment to the Cavs.
The 11th-year veteran nonetheless has financial incentive to wait until he hits free agency to sign a new deal with Cleveland. He can only make 107.5% of this year’s nearly $9.705MM salary in the first season of an extension with the Cavs, with 7.5% raises in subsequent years, and such a deal could only run through 2017/18. He could sign a five-year contract for up to roughly 35% of the salary cap if he became a free agent, though it’s unlikely that he’d command quite so much in salary, and the Cavs would probably have reservations about a deal that long for a player his age. Conversely, Varejao’s salary is only guaranteed for $4MM this year, but Cleveland is highly unlikely to waive him and pocket those savings, short of another in an already long line of injuries to the 30th overall pick from 2004.