Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Varejao: Still not signed. Why not?

In looking at defensive efficiency last week, I highlighted the important role that mobile big men can play--allowing teams to pressure opposing teams (thus forcing turnovers) and still recover to be in position to contest shots and rebound missed shots. Considering the Sixers' defensive strength (i.e. DTOR) and weaknesses (i.e. TS% and DRR), I thought that Anderson Varejao would be the type of player who would be a perfect addition. His contributions to the Cleveland Cavaliers' superb defense demonstrates how he could fill the Sixers' need for a mobile big man who recovers well.

Varejao was also considered a hot commodity entering the off-season, so I assumed that (1) the Sixers had no chance of getting him, and (2) he would be snapped up right away. Based on these assumptions, I am little shocked that he currently remains unsigned. Accompanying this article over at the Wages of Wins talking about the remaining unsigned free agents, the author includes a table showing the WP48 and NBA Efficiency rankings of the remaining free agents. According to this chart, Varejao ranks third in WP48 and fourth in NBA efficiency among all free agents, and he ranks number one in both categories among restricted free agents.

So why hasn't Varejao been bombarded with offers? Steve Aschburner at CNNSI.com takes a look at restricted free agency and concludes that:

As long as Team A knows that Team B is likely to match any offer it puts on the table for a valuable young guy, Team A would be wasting its time wooing the player and structuring a contract. It would be doing an opposing club's work for it, since the original team merely would have to duplicate the paperwork's clauses and provisions.

Even worse, it would be tying up its own free-agent flexibility; the collective bargaining agreement gives the original team up to seven days to match an offer sheet, during which the player must be carried on the bidding team's books. That waiting period used to be 15 days, but there really is no good reason that it should be more than, say, one. Except, that is, to chill the market.

In Varejao's case, the Cavaliers can match most of the possible offer sheets because of the salary cap constrained position most teams find themselves in. Knowing their strong negotiating position, the Cavaliers made Varejao a $1.3 million qualifying offer--a low-ball offer for a player whose value is somewhere between $6 million (the Cavs offer on a long-term deal) and $10 million (his agent's belief) per year.

Most people think that Varejao will end up either signing the Cavaliers qualifying offer and pursuing unrestricted free agency next season or signing the Cavaliers long-term contract offer. I think the Sixers should offer him the $5.7 mid-level exception for a one year contract (the most they can offer for next year). In the Sixers' best case scenario, Varejao is annoyed enough at the Cavaliers that he accepts the Sixers offer, the Cavaliers refuse to match because of luxury cap concerns, the Sixers benefit from Varejao's efforts this coming season, and they can use this season to convince Varejao to sign a long-term contract next summer when the Sixers will be under the salary cap. In the worse case scenario, the Cavaliers match the qualifying offer, forcing a conference rival to spend more money this year to retain a player than they desired.

This plan would cost the Sixers $11.4 million because they'll be paying the luxury tax (The salary cap for this season is $55.63 million. The luxury tax is $67.865 million.), but I think it would be a worthwhile expenditure. Considering how little free agent action is going on these days, I don't see how the normal reasons for not dealing with restricted free agents (worry about wasting time, tying up free-agent flexibility) really apply. And if somehow Varejao ends up on the Sixers, then I think the Sixers are a playoff team this coming season.

1 comment:

TurtleMD said...

oh sam. your blog is the bestest blog i have ever seen.