Is Maxiell Worth the Mid-Level?

Jason MaxiellWhile I ponder my fanhood of the Browns, this morning I turn my attention to the Cavaliers.  Sure, they may not even be in season yet, but I’m not even thinking about this year.  After hearing from Natalie over at Need4Sheed that the Pistons could be low-balling forward/center Jason Maxiell, the first thought that came to my mind was “Man, would he look nice in Cleveland.” 

It appears that Detroits offer was $15 million for three seasons; not the biggest testment to what they see in his future, yet surprising when you consider the ages of their current forwards Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess.  Matt over at Detroit Bad Boys doesn’t believe that any teams will offer Maxiell the full mid-level exemption, which would be approximately $2-3 million more per year. 

You have an intense, defense-oriented forward with a knack for huge blocked shots and has put up solid scoring per 36 minutes.  Couple all of this with the fact that we have our own power forward that is going to be a free agent at the end of this season, and I wonder which player I would rather see on this team going forward.

Not that long ago, Rock mentioned that he would be willing to pay Anderson Varejao about $7 million per year with his current skill-set.  He sites his energy, rebounding abilities and offensive liability.  Added in is the fact that the number could rise considerably if Varejao were to develop some sort of shot, perhaps a drop-step or two. 

In each of his past four seasons, Varejao’s per 36-minute scoring numbers have dropped year-over-year.  Yes, most of last season’s 8.8 points per 36 can be attributed to injuries, but it is hard to place that much emphasis on this due to being per game averages. 

On the other hand, Maxiell averages a solid double-figure scoring number.  He blocks nearly a full shot more per game, and hits 54 percent of his shots.  His rebounding numbers are a bit lower – about two fewer per game.  This would likely be the biggest negative about Max, at least in comparison to Andy.

If we turn to John Hollinger, Varejao’s PER is currently 12.71, a bit lower than the league average of 15.  Maxiell, in comparison, has a PER of 15.63.  In his commentary, Hollinger states:

Offensively, he’s not terribly skilled but has improved as a shooter — he actually made 31 of 68 long 2-pointers last season — and his upgraded free-throw shooting is another positive. He doesn’t handle the ball well and his low-post game lacks refinement, with a decent turnaround J being his only weapon on the block. Instead he crashed the boards and looked to get buckets flying down the lane as a trailer in transition.

Sure, not the biggest testament to quality.  But does this not scream high-energy with a bit more of an offensive skill set than Varejao – a player we would consider offering the MLE?

The two things that I then consider are: 1) If Detroit doesn’t want to commit their MLE, and those that cover the team do not think another team would use theirs, do they know something we don’t?  There is usually a lot more to a player than his stats, so he may not have as much upside as I think.  And 2) I wonder if the Cavaliers consider J.J. Hickson as the future in terms of the high-energy power forward.  I’ve heard plenty of rumors that if the draft were to go down again, Hickson would go in the top 10, which is huge.  I’ve also heard that he is raw and may be more than a year away from getting consistent time.  He too has quite a wingspan and is great on the glass, but just needs some work on the defensive end.

With all of this said, pontificating about something that is a year away may seem like a tiring exercise.  However, now knowing that Varjeao may consider staying in Cleveland and knowing that Maxiell may in fact be testing the waters, would it be worth giving the MLE to one or the other?  Obviously, I’m a big fan of Maxiell’s body of work.  Even from his days with Huggins and the Bearcats, he’s a tremendous athlete that can make a difference on both ends of the floor.  Is Andy the same, especially being a year older?  Or is Hickson the future at the “four?” 

Only time will tell…

Jason Maxiell Passes on Pistons Offer [Need4Sheed]

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  • Josh

    Not only do we need to ask who to start at the “four” but who will be starting at Center? Z probably only has a couple of years left, and with no big men (outside of Hickson) in the pipeline, the front line looks weak.

  • D-Train

    he’s a really good bench guy, but i don’t think he’s worth more than that

  • Victory

    Yea he is a solid player. I’d give him the mid level. In my opinion the front line is our only concern. If we can’t get another big man before the deadline then i’d try to sign him in the offseason over andy.

  • Brandon Hoffman

    I think Maxiell would be a great pickup for Cleveland. He provides everything that Varejao does … and more. And unlike Anderson, Maxiell knows his limitations.

  • Ricky

    I would trade Anderson for Maxiell straight up in a heartbeat if that were any sort of possibility, which it probably isn’t. I think Maxiell is a very solid player that has gotten better in each of his years in the NBA; his upside is more than Varejao in my opinion. Did anyone see that block he had on Tyson Chandler (I think it was him) in the regular season? He blocks with authority. He is a physical specimen. I know the chances of us getting him are slim to none, but I would love to have him at the MLE

  • Lyon

    I would have no probelm getting Maxiell. He provides us with depth downlow. If there’s a way to keep Andy and him, then even better. 2 energy guys to come off the bench, with Hickson learning. Have to Draft a PF or C this year with Z’s impending retirement looming on the horizon.

  • RockKing

    If Detroit doesn’t up their offer, I’m guess they’re hedging their bet that nobody else will give him the MLE. Unfortunately, he’s a restricted FA and I think if the Cavaliers signed him to an offer sheet at the MLE, Detroit would absolutely match it. They’re not going to let Maxiell come to Cleveland and haunt them over and over again unless they can make Cleveland overpay for him in the process. At least that’s how I see it.

    But man, oh man, would I LOVE to see Maxiell in Cleveland. I love this guy’s game. A lot.

  • Tom

    I would think so. He’s young and he’s not even close to peaking. Detroit is great at finding the young talent. Most stay but some go, he would fit great into Cleveland!

  • Shaun

    He’s a rock solid rotation player that will kill you with hustle and muscle. Varejao, by comparsion, lacks the latter. It’d be great to see him on our side indeed, but is he just a rich man’s Darnell Jackson? I think that’s the real question.

  • Glenn

    As a Detroit fan, we just love Max. Where you’d hesitate to give him money is because of his energy level. Right now, he tires out if he has to play more than 25 minutes for multiple games. He also need to build/refine his offensive post game. He’s a great sub, but there’s questions about whether he’s a starter. That’s why he got the 5 mil/year offer that he got. If he ups his game this year, you can be sure that the offer will go up too, i doubt you can pry him away for the MLE.