While 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?”