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How Pat Riley Damaged Varejao’s Cavs Contract Negotiations

Pat Riley Anderson VarejaoOK — first, let me say this is a totally unsubstantiated conspiracy theory and that it has very little basis in fact.

But considering how smart Riley is, and his predisposition to Machiavellian behavior, it seems likely that he would interfere in a conference rival’s free-agent negotiations if he thought it would help his team.

Here’s how it happened (or at least how I would have done it if I were Riley):

1) When free agency first opened, I would have gotten Varejao on the phone at midnight and said something like “I really want you on our team, and I’m prepared to step up and do what it takes to make it happen. I think Danny (the Cavs GM) doesn’t understand your value and importance, your cool hair…” etc., whatever it took to make Andy feel like he was the best big in the game and that he was incredibly under-appreciated by his current team. I would also have given young Varejao the impression that I had an “in” with the Cavs, and that I could make a deal happen. Then, I would have told him to have his agent call my staff so we could “work out the details of the sign-and-trade”.

2) I would have spent the first couple of weeks of free agency slowly negotiating a contract with Varejao. I would have taken advantage of Varejao’s agent Dan Fegan, who is notoriously greedy, and let Dan “work me” into a really good contract, saying things like “well, if that’s what it takes to get Andy, then I guess we have to do it” followed up by “let me talk to the owner and make sure he’s ready to do this”. The money I agreed to (say, $12 million a year) would have been so good Varejao’s agent would have to give me time to make it happen. More importantly, as long as Fegan believes my offer is for real, he would drag his feet with other teams, delaying other negotiations for several weeks. The Cavs would be forced to sit back and wait.

3) I would have created a contract offer for Varejao with a lot of incentives and bonuses, making the negotiations especially complex and time consuming to further waste time. Interestingly enough, a complex $52 million 6 year contract “loaded with incentives” was presented to the Cavs as a counter offer in October of this year. Maybe it was a copy of an earlier sign-and-trade contract?

4) When it came time to actually make the sign-and-trade happen, I’d use Varejao’s perceptions of Cavs GM Danny Ferry against him, explaining to Varejao that Ferry was too unreasonable to work with. Then I’d explain that I’m moving on to other opportunities (Mo Williams). However, I’d suggest that Varejao threaten to play in Europe next year (just like I told Mo) as a way to get Cleveland to work with me.

5) I’d check-in regularly with Varejao and continue to express just how valuable I thought he was, and just how poorly Ferry was treating him. After all, I’m Pat Riley, one of the most respected coaches of all time. Why wouldn’t Varejao like hearing from me?

6) When the Cavs - Varejao contract negotiations were sufficiently poisoned, I’d sit back and laugh, knowing that I’d substantially weakened a conference rival. Then, I’d steal some candy from some children or something (just for giggles).

I know my scenario sounds a little out their, but think about it — what smart GM wouldn’t do everything I just described? If you’re an NBA GM, you’re got nothing to lose by trying to poison other teams free-agency negotiations as long as you don’t do it too often — if you did it every year, you’d get a reputation as a game player. Besides, with a foolish young player that thinks he’s the best big in Cleveland and a greedy agent, how hard would it really be?

Ballhype: hype it up!

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  1. 2 Comment(s)

  2. By Pat Riley on Dec 10, 2007 | Reply

    NBA is too small to do such things.

    its a small family

  3. By JL on Dec 11, 2007 | Reply

    The NBA is as much a family as the mob is…and family members kill each other in the mob.

    I think NBA family members lie to each other constantly. That’s the business they’ve chosen..

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