Anderson Varejao has been playing the best basketball of his career this season. At age 30, he’s averaging career-highs in points (15.1) and rebounds per game (15.3).
The Cleveland Cavaliers are not winning games though. They are just 4-12 on the season so far and their best player, Kyrie Irving, has missed the last six games with an injury.
The Cavaliers are in a situation where they have to make a decision on what to do with Varejao, whose trade value is soaring through the roof right now.
Varejao has three years left on his contract and any team would love to have him so it would be hard for the Cavaliers to let him go. But with playoff berths seemingly a long way away, capitalizing on trading Varejao now might be a good idea.
One team that could use Varejao and offer Cleveland a good deal in exchange for him is the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder would have to deal Kendrick Perkins in any package for Varejao and they also have young talented rookie in Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III to include in a deal as well as three first round draft picks and Charlotte’s second-round draft pick next year. Maybe the Cavaliers can also throw in Daniel Gibson who is in the final year of his contract to sweeten the deal for OKC.
If the Cavaliers commit to the idea of trading Varejao, this would be a pretty good return for him. They already have young talent in Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller. If they could add Lamb or Jones III and get some draft picks as well, that’s a decent haul.
The Thunder obviously wouldn’t say no to exchanging Perkins for Varejao no matter how much everyone in OKC loves Perkins. Varejao is a better defender especially in the pick-and-roll and can give a lot more offense as well without needing the ball.
The tough decision is whether the Thunder would also be willing to trade Jones III or Lamb or both as well. Part of the Thunder’s plan in trading James Harden this season was being ready to compete for a title for years to come and having young talent on the roster is a big part of that.
The Thunder could be in a tough spot if they have to give up Lamb in this potential trade and they also are unable to re-sign Kevin Martin after the season. After this year, the bench unit would take a major hit in terms of its scoring punch and the Thunder would have to find a way to replace that.
But acquiring Varejao would be just too good to pass up if it could be possible for the Thunder. The Thunder are already big time title contenders right now and Varejao would make them the favorites in the Western Conference for sure.
There would be an end to the stagnant offense from OKC’s starting five by exchanging Perkins for Varejao and the Thunder would likely turn into an absolute monster on both ends of the floor.
You can even imagine Varejao being a much better fit vs. the Miami Heat in a potential NBA Finals matchup. He’s so active on defense that the Thunder wouldn’t have to worry as much about the Heat’s small ball.
You can’t say this would guarantee the Thunder winning a title but it would be the closest they could get to that.
So the Thunder would get Varejao for this season and the next two. After that, it might be tough keeping him but at the age of 33 by that time, Varejao seems like the kind of guy who would take less money to stay in OKC especially if the Thunder have won a title or two by that time.
Right now the Thunder are saying they are not interested in making a trade this season. That makes sense since they have started the year off so great but if an opportunity like this presents itself, GM Sam Presti has proven he is willing to pull the trigger quickly on deals he likes.
Varejao has always been a player that would seemingly be a perfect fit with the Thunder. To think they may actually have a chance of acquiring him now during a time where he is playing so well is scary to think about.