NBA PM: Will Cavaliers Trade Anderson Varejao?
Anderson Varejao is no stranger to trade rumors. The 30-year-old has heard his name surface in plenty of different trade scenarios over the years, as recently as several months ago. Plenty of teams called the Cleveland Cavaliers to make offers for Varejao last offseason. However, the Cavs never seriously considered trading their starting center because they valued him too much.
Even though injuries limited Varejao to 25 games last season and 31 games in 2010-11, they knew what he was capable of doing when he was completely healthy so their asking price was very high and they couldn’t find a deal worth making.
Now, 20 games into this season, Cleveland’s patience will likely pay off because Varejao is playing the best basketball of his career and his trade value is at an all-time high.
This season, Varejao is averaging career-highs across the board with 14.5 points, 15.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He has been the Cavaliers’ most consistent player and, if he continues to play at this high level, he’ll likely be selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
While Varejao has many fans within the Cavaliers organization, multiple league sources believe Cleveland will trade him as the February 21 trade deadline approaches. One league source thinks the Cavs would part ways with Varejao if they were able to add one or two more pieces to their young core that includes Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller.
At 30 years old, Varejao will likely be out of the league once Irving, Waiters, Thompson and Zeller each reach their prime. While Varejao has been an excellent leader and mentor for Cleveland’s young core, he’s not in the Cavs’ long-term plan, which is why trading him for young talent and draft picks while his stock is high seems to make the most sense.
If the team were closer to contention, keeping Varejao would make sense. However, the Cavs are still a rebuilding team that’s at least a few years away from making any serious noise in the East.
Another reason that Varejao is such an attractive trade chip is his salary. This season, he’s making just $8.4 million, next season he’ll make $9.1 million and the following year he has a $9.8 million team option. Not bad for “the best center in the NBA,” as Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott has called Varejao.
One league source suggested that Varejao would be open to a trade rather than playing the best basketball of his career on a 4-17 Cavs team that seems poised for another trip to the lottery. At this point in Varejao’s career, he likely wants to play for a contender, especially after getting a taste of deep postseason runs earlier in his career.
The general consensus around the league is that it makes sense for Cleveland to cash in Varejao for some assets that will be in their long-term plan. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen. The Cavaliers could once again set their asking price extremely high and choose not to pull the trigger on a deal. However, with Varejao having a career-year and the team still having plenty of holes, moving Varejao seems more likely now than ever before.
One thing is certain: Varejao, along with Jose Calderon, Pau Gasol, Derrick Williams and many others, will continue to hear his name mentioned in trade rumors over the next two and a half months.
Can Steve Nash Save the Lakers?
The Los Angeles Lakers have been by far the most disappointing team a month and a half into the season. The Lakers are currently 9-12 and if the playoffs started today, they’d be on the outside looking in as the 12th seed in the Western Conference.
While the blame for the Lakers’ early struggles has been put on everyone from Mike D’Antoni to Pau Gasol to Dwight Howard, the main reason for their slow start has been the absence of Steve Nash. The 38-year-old point guard has been out since the second game of the season and his primary back-up, Steve Blake, has been sidelined as well. L.A. has been relying on Chris Duhon and Darius Morris to run D’Antoni’s offense, which needs a proficient point guard to reach its full potential.
Nash is still several weeks away from returning because he can’t yet run at full speed and he’s not in playing shape. When he returns, can he solve the Lakers’ problems and turn around their season?
“I feel they will be a lot better when Nash returns because of his ability to put pressure on opposing defenses,” one Western Conference scout said. “He plays so well off of the pick-and-roll. I think it will benefit Gasol also.”
The scout added that it’s “tough to win with role players as your starting point guards,” referring to Duhon and Morris.
“Nash will make the Lakers exponentially better,” one coach said. “He makes the Lakers better in every area. He gets Howard in positions to score, not get fouled. The Lakers literally don’t have a starting point guard right now. Even Blake is a marked improvement from Duhon and Morris.”
However, not everyone around the league believes that Nash will fix all of the Lakers’ problems.
One league source believes that the Lakers “will win seven to ten games in a row” once Nash returns, but then “they’ll struggle once teams scout them.” This source adds that the Lakers “need to sign a shooter as soon as possible.” The source is also concerned about their L.A.’s stars staying healthy since they’ve all been banged up at some point or another this season. “Two of the Big Four will constantly be out,” the source said.
All eyes will be on Nash and the Lakers when he’s able to return in several weeks. The Lakers haven’t been at full strength for much of the season and it’s tough to judge them without all of their pieces in places. However, if the Lakers continue to struggle once Nash and Blake return, that’s when it’s time to be concerned.
Jordan Hill Trying to Duplicate Last Season’s Success
Last season, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Jordan Hill at midseason and he eventually earned significant minutes under head coach Mike Brown. He became an important part of the Lakers’ rotation and played well during the postseason, which is why the Lakers re-signed him to a two-year deal when he became a free agent last offseason.
But Hill isn’t playing the same minutes under new head coach Mike D’Antoni that he was under Brown. The 25-year-old big man has had to adjust to the new coaching staff and system, which has been frustrating at times. He has played well when given minutes and he has his best game of the season on Sunday night against the Lakers, contributing 17 points, 9 rebounds and four blocks off of the bench.
Hill recently talked with HOOPSWORLD about his adjustment this season, playing for D’Antoni and more: