Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Updated: July 1, 10:58 AM ET
Varejao opts to test free agency
ESPN.com news services
The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired one big man, and now they might lose another.
Forward Anderson Varejao did not exercise the final year of his contract on Tuesday, making him an unrestricted free agent this summer. Varejao was slated to make $6.2 million this year if he opted in. Instead, Varejao, who plays a key role defensively for the Cavs, will test the free agent waters, looking for more long-term lucrative deal.
The Cavs are expected to make a big run at re-signing the five-year veteran. The hustling Varejao posted career-highs in starts (42), scoring (8.6), field-goal percentage (.536) and minutes (28.5) per game last season for the Cavs, who won 66 regular-season games but were eliminated in the Eastern Conference finals by Orlando.
The 6-foot-11 Varejao sat out a large chunk of last season in a contract dispute with Cleveland, but has said he wants to stay with the Cavs.
Several other teams, including the Pistons, Thunder and Grizzlies are far enough under the cap to make a competitive offer to Varejao.
Last week, the Cavs dealt Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, a draft pick and cash to the Suns for center Shaquille O'Neal.
Information from NBA Insider Chad Ford and The Associated Press was used in this report.