CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -In need of a big man, the Charlotte Bobcats reached agreement Tuesday on a three-year offer sheet with Cleveland restricted free agent Anderson Varejao, giving the Cavaliers a week to match the deal or lose him.
The deal is for the Bobcats' midlevel salary cap exception, worth just over $17 million. Varejao could opt out of the deal after the second season and become an unrestricted free agent.
The 6-foot-10 Varejao has been in a prolonged contract dispute with the Cavaliers, which has kept him sidelined this season. He said last week that he would prefer to play for another team.
Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said in an e-mail they wouldn't decide whether to match the offer until they received the document from the Bobcats.
``It will probably arrive tomorrow and then we will make the appropriate decision,'' Ferry said.
The 25-year-old Varejao averaged a career-best 6.8 points and 6.7 rebounds last season in helping the Cavaliers reach the NBA finals for the first time.
Bobcats coach Sam Vincent has been asking for a big man since the beginning of the season. The Bobcats lost Sean May to season-ending knee surgery in training camp. Starting center Primoz Brezec has been ineffective and was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Jared Dudley on Monday night in Toronto, the Bobcats' sixth straight loss.
``We're excited about the opportunity to add a player of Anderson's caliber to our team,'' Vincent said. ``We feel like he's a guy who can come in and give us some immediate help in the post.''
Before training camp opened, Varejao turned down Cleveland's one-year, $1.2 million qualifying offer. If he had signed that deal, the former second-round pick could have become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
In late October, the Cavaliers rejected a six-year, $52 million package presented by Fegan.
Varejao is known for his energy and defense, and the move comes a day after Vincent questioned his team's focus and preparation following the 98-79 loss to the Raptors.
The Bobcats, with 15 guaranteed contracts, would have to release a player to add Varejao if the Cavaliers don't match the offer.
``Anderson has established himself as a very good young player in this league,'' Bobcats general manager Rod Higgins said. ``We look forward to the opportunity to add him to the core of our franchise as we continue to grow and improve.''
Before joining the Cavaliers in the 2004-05 season, Varejao spent three seasons in Spain playing for F.C. Barcelona. He's also a member of the Brazilian national team, and the Bobcats said he could play for the team in the offseason, a point of contention with the Cavaliers.
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AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed to this report.
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