One of the biggest trade targets this season is Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao. Varejao is playing the best basketball of his career, looking like an All-Star averaging 14.0 points and 14.9 rebounds per game so far this season.
But the Cavaliers aren’t winning and with Varejao playing this well, they may be interested in capitalizing on the high trade value Varejao now possesses and send him to a contender.
The Oklahoma City Thunder make sense as a possible destination for Varejao, although they haven’t come out and said they are interested or not yet.
The Cavs, sources say, want multiple young assets in return for the 30-year-old, who is averaging 14.3 points and 14.8 rebounds and possesses a very manageable contract that calls for Varejao to receive $9.1 million next season with a $9.8 million team option in 2014-15. The Thunder are the rare title contender also blessed with the sort of youth/stashed draft picks to appeal to Cleveland, but sources say OKC has shown little interest to date.
A potential trade between the Thunder and Cavaliers involving Varejao would have to include Thunder center Kendrick Perkins to match up the salaries. The Thunder then also have rookies Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III who the Cavs might be interested in as well as multiple first round draft picks next year.
It would be the kind of move that would really help the Thunder this year and the next few. Part of the plan in trading James Harden before the start of the season was to ensure the Thunder could be a contender for the next decade by stockpiling young talent and draft picks.
Trading for Varejao like this would go against that philosophy somewhat.
But it is an opportunity that the Thunder definitely need to think about. OKC has the best record in the league right now and would definitely be the NBA title favorite if they could essentially swap Perkins for Varejao. They wouldn’t have to worry about the Lakers (not that they are right now anyway) and they would be better suited to match up with the Spurs, Heat, Clippers and Grizzlies.