The Anderson Varejao re-signing shows that I would want to play poker against Danny Ferry

July 9, 2009

Hands like this dont come around often...but players like Verajao are a dime a dozen...

Hands like this don't come around often...but players like Verajao are a dime a dozen...

The poker movie “Rounders” is a great metaphor for life in the NBA.

You have to study your opponents moves, find a weakness and then exploit it.  Matt Damon plays a young, hotshot player, who hits bottom, only to climb back to the surface.  Preventing his rise is school, a best friend who is trouble and a girlfriend who doesn’t understand his passion with poker.

Being a NBA GM requires you have similar skills of a poker player, being able to read hands of your opponents, and feigning weakness, when you are really strong.  I thought that Danny Ferry would be a good poker player, based on some of the moves that he made, but ultimately his latest play has been a headscratcher.

While I am not going to grade the Ferry regime, this particular move is the one that left me truly wondering if I could read Ferry’s hand in a game of poker. is reporting that Anderson Verajao is being retained for about fives times the winners stake at the Main Event of Poker.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have come to an agreement with free agent Anderson Varejao on a six-year deal, his agent Dan Fegan told

Varejao’s contract is worth $42.5 million over the six years, and the final year is only partially guaranteed. Incentives could push the total amount to $50 million.

As a 30 something sports fan, I have clear memories of Danny Ferry as a college player and as a pro.  His career at Duke was a great one, as Wikipedia points out

He is among Duke’s greatest players of all time, ranking 5th in career points, fifth in career rebounds, and seventh in career assists—the only player in the top 10 in all three categories.

Ferry’s number 35 was retired in 1989 at the end of his senior season.[2] In 2002, Ferry was named to the ACC 50th Anniversary men’s basketball team honoring the fifty greatest players in Atlantic Coast Conference history.

But, as an NBA player, he was a bust, even though he has played in the most games in Cleveland Cavaliers history.

Danny Ferry as a player gives us hints about Danny Ferry the GM. The game that is being played by Ricky Rubio now was Danny Ferry’s Player card at provides this little nugget

Selected by the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round (second pick overall) of the 1989 NBA Draft…Played in Italy in 1989-90…Draft rights traded by the Clippers with Reggie Williams to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ron Harper, 1990 and 1992 first-round draft choices, and a 1991 second-round draft choice on 11/16/89

Now, the first lesson here is that Danny Ferry is not afraid to get his chips in the pot and gamble. At the time, I clearly remember thinking that Ferry was crazy for risking his dream of the NBA. One injury overseas and no one would want him.  But, his resolute stand got him traded to the Cavs and a very rich contract.

Fast forward twenty years.  You would hope that your Texas Hold-Em game would improve in that time.  But, the only conclusion that I can come up with is that he has regressed in two short years. Plain and simple, Ferry got schooled here.

WHO else was going to pay AV that kind of money in this market?   This just tells me that Dan Fegan is a grandmaster of poker.  He is the Phil Ivey of the agent game., lists the agents and their players.

.Dan Fegan… Agents Aaron Goodwin Aaron Mintz Andre Buck Andre Colona Andrew Woolf Andy Miller Arn Tellem Bill Duffy Bill McCandless Bill Neff Bill Strickland Billy Ceisler Bob McClaren Bob Myers Bouna Ndiaye Brad Ames Brian Dyke Brian Elfus Buddy Baker Byron Irvin Calvin Andrews Charles Bonsignore Charles Grantham Charles Tucker Chris Emens Chris Luchey Craig McKenzie Dan Fegan Dan Tobin Darren White David Bauman David Falk David Lee Derek Powell Doug Neustadt Donald Dell Eric Fleisher Erin Cowan Frank Catapano Frankie Ross Gary Wichard George Bass Gerald Duncan Glenn Schwartzman Guy Zucker Happy Walters Henry Thomas Herb Rudoy Holger Geschwindner James Wells Jamie Knox Jason Levien Jeff Austin Jeff Fried Jeff Schwartz Jeff Wechsler Jerome Lewis Jerry Hicks Jim McDowell Jim Tanner Jimmy Sexton Joel Bell John Greig John Huizinga Josh Nochimson Justin Zanik Keith Glass Keith Kreiter Kenny Grant Kevin Bradbury Kevin Poston Kurt Schoeppler Lance Young Lapoe Smith Leigh Steinberg Leon Rose Lon Babby Louis Lookofsky Luciano Capicchioni Marc Cornstein Marc Fleisher Mark Bartelstein Mark McNeil Mark Stevens Mark Termini Matteo Comellini Merle Scott Michael Coyne Michael Harrison Michael Whitaker Mike Conley Mike Higgins Noah Croom Paco Belassen Perry Rogers Raymond Brothers Reggie Brown Richard Howell Richard Kaplan Richard Katz Rob Pelinka Robert Barr Robert Fayne Roger Montgomery Sam Goldfeder Steve Heumann Steve Kauffman Steve Mountain Thaddeus Foucher Todd Eley Todd Ramasar Tony Dutt Wallace Prather William Pollak
Current NBA Players: 13
All-Star Players: 1
Maxed-out Players: 1
Agent Ranking: 6th
Nationality: American
Agency: BEST
Player 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13
Jason Richardson $13,333,333 $14,444,444 $0 $0
Troy Murphy $11,047,619 $11,968,253 $0 $0
Nenê $10,520,000 $11,360,000 $11,600,000 $0
Erick Dampier $10,112,500 $13,075,000 $0 $0
Al Harrington $10,026,875 $0 $0 $0
Jason Terry $9,862,500 $10,650,000 $11,437,500 $11,437,500
Rafer Alston $5,250,000 $0 $0 $0
Reggie Evans $4,960,000 $5,080,000 $0 $0
Matt Carroll $4,700,000 $4,300,000 $3,900,000 $3,500,000
Kris Humphries $3,200,000 $3,200,000 $0 $0
Yi Jianlian $3,194,400 $4,050,500 $5,403,366 $0
Jarvis Hayes $2,062,800 $0 $0 $0

Kyrylo Fesenko



$0 $0
Anderson Varejao $0 $0 $0 $0
Joe Smith $0 $0 $0 $0
Shawn Marion $0 $0 $0 $0
Melvin Ely $0 $0 $0 $0

Austin Croshere






$89,140,027 $74,077,697 $26,937,500 $14,937,500

Fegan won this game of no-limit poker.  In a market where the salary cap is going to be LOWER than last year, and you have the class of 2010 on the horizon, why would you spend excessive amounts of money now?

Danny, I know you are worried about LeBron.  If he is as fickle as to snatch up cameras because he got hammered on, you know he will leave CLE on a whim for his chase for the golden ticket.  For that, I can see why you might have panicked, but just continue to have the poker face, and never let then see you sweat.

See, this was a good move for Ferry in 2007.

After months of being unable to get a deal done with the Cavaliers, Varejao accepted a three-year, $17.4 million offer sheet from the Charlotte Bobcats late Monday, Varejao’s agent, Dan Fegan, said. The deal has an opt-out clause after two seasons, which is the key part of the deal. (

You played hardball, and you resigned him at an affordable rate.  Now, Fegan deserves props too.  he used his old connections with Rod Higgins to get the Bobcats to offer the sheet in the first place.  Without the offer, Ferry holds all the cards.

This year is different, because AV used the parachute in his contract to void the final year, but Portland and Memphis are the only teams with cap space that will go above the MLE, without involving a sign and trade.

You might not hold the nuts, but you have a pretty good drawing hand.  Just like Matt Damon’s character Matt McDermott got his law professor to win a big hand with a busted straight draw, Danny Ferry could have gotten Dan Fegan to fold and accept a smaller, more reasonable deal.

I thought that GM’s and owners learned that the only players worth extending more than three or four years are bona fide superstars, or players with reasonable deals.  This is not one of them.

Danny Ferry is Teddy KGB.  Just because you won the first time, doesn’t mean that you have a read on that player.  Re-evaluate your options, then act…

(parts of this are posted at Bleacher Report and at WCLBasketball)

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