Cavs match 'Cats' offer for Varejao
"It's good. I'm happy. I'm going to be back playing basketball," Varejao told SI.com on Wednesday after Cleveland matched the Bobcats' three-year, $17.4 million offer sheet for the restricted free agent, who could opt out and test the market again after the second year of the deal.
"I am grateful to the Bobcats for signing me to the deal I wanted," he said, "but the rules ... I was restricted. ... But I'm happy to be in Cleveland."
Varejao said he had not yet heard from LeBron James since getting his new deal, but he added that he had no doubt his superstar teammate understood his protracted holdout.
"I spoke with him a couple times [during the process]," Varejao said. "He totally understands. He's always supported me and I appreciated that. I want to thank him for that."
Varejao said he had already heard from Cavs teammates Sasha Pavlovic and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. He said he didn't think he would need to mend fences with teammates over comments he made last week that he was worth more than some other Cavs players.
"They all know me and they love me. I love them. We have no problems," he said. "They understand me and the situation, and they know what was going on. I spoke with Sasha and Z. They are happy. They welcomed me back and said, 'We'll see you in a couple days.' "
Varejao also said last week that he didn't want to play with the Cavs again.
"I love the fans in Cleveland," he said Wednesday. "I just was sad and upset with everything. It was negotiations. I'm looking forward to being back there and playing like always."
Varejao averaged a career-best 6.8 points and 6.7 rebounds last season in helping the Cavs reach the NBA Finals for the first time. The Cavs could use a spark from the energetic forward -- they had lost four in a row entering Wednesday's game against the Wizards, the last three without James (sprained finger) -- but how quickly the 6-foot-10 Varejao will be ready to contribute remains to be seen.
"I'm in really good shape," Varejao said, "but I was practicing by myself, so it's hard to get in rhythm. I don't know how long it will be until I'm back to playing 100 percent. ... Sometimes you feel like you're ready to play and you're not. I'm in shape but we'll see how I react to contact and all that."
Before training camp opened, Varejao turned down Cleveland's one-year, $1.2 million qualifying offer. If he had signed, the former second-round pick could have become an unrestricted free agent after this season. In late October, the Cavs rejected a six-year, $52 million package presented by Varejao's agent, Dan Fegan.
"We're looking forward to getting him in Cleveland and getting him back on the basketball court," Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said. "He's a player we respect and admire and he'll help us become a better basketball team."
The Cavs waived guard/forward Demetris Nichols to make room for Varejao on the roster.
Before joining the Cavaliers for 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.