A Different BIg Man Option

Photo by amingportfolio on Flickr

 

So this is a pretty sweet free agent class for bigs, right? Nene, Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, David West. If I was a GM looking to improve my frontcourt, I’d love any of them. Especially Marc — he’s just entering his prime (he’ll be 27 in late January) and is already incredibly versatile on offense. He may not be an all-world defender today, but he’s solid and I’d bet on him continuing to get better.

Wait, wha? He’s almost definitely staying with Memphis? Crap. Well, those other guys might be better than Marc is right now, anyway! So what if they’re a bit older — Chandler was the defensive anchor for a championship team, Nene is coming off the best season of his career, and West’s consistent scoring at the 4 is very valuable…

Hold up. Nene and Chandler are asking for near-max deals? Hmm, I don’t know about that. Come to think of it, I don’t know about David West’s knee, either. Who else could I go after? Maybe there’s a chance the Clippers don’t match a DeAndre Jordan offer sheet.. I could be the guy who offers Greg Oden a 3-year deal… Hey, Andris Biedrins was really good a couple of seasons ago… Samuel Dalembert can still block shots, you know… Joel Przybilla might be a bargain if he can stay on the floor…

Oh, I have an idea: Anderson Varejao.

Of course, Andy isn’t a free agent. But he’s 29 and he plays in Cleveland. With that roster, the Cavs really should have no use for 29-year-olds sopping up significant minutes. Yeah, depending on how good Kyrie Irving is out of the gate, Varejao could still be their best player, but they just used the #4 pick on Tristan Thompson. You can look at this in two ways: Andy has value as a mentor, or Andy is expendable because their skillsets overlap. In either case, it’s hard to imagine him being a Cavalier in three years and the team needs a few more pieces to rebuild properly. Varejao helps you win, but Cleveland doesn’t need wins, so Chris Grant should consider trading him for good young players and picks.

Varejao is making $7.95 million this season. In 2014-2015, he’ll be making $9.95 million (unless he’s cut – only $4 million of that is guaranteed). For one of the best defensive players on the planet, this is a bargain. He doesn’t give you the scoring you can get from Nene or Marc Gasol and he doesn’t guard the 5 as well as Chandler, but he’s not just an energy player. He’s almost unmatched in terms of defending the pick and roll and he’s long been underrated for the cuts he makes and his weird finishing ability around the basket. He only appeared in 31 games last season due to a torn tendon in his right ankle, but early in the season he was making some jump shots as well. Now, Varejao says he’s 100 percent healthy. There’s sure to be some rust at the beginning of the season because he didn’t play any basketball for 11 months, but for a contending team or one that’s a piece or two away, he’d be a fantastic acquisition. A savvy GM will realize that he won’t kill your cap situation or let you down in a few seasons, as well.

Seth Carstens