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, Iâ€™d love any of them. Especially Marc â€” heâ€™s just entering his prime (heâ€™ll be 27 in late January) and is already incredibly versatile on offense. He may not be an all-world defender today, but heâ€™s solid and Iâ€™d bet on him continuing to get better.
Wait, wha? Heâ€™s almost definitely staying with Memphis? Crap. Well, those other guys might be better than Marc is right now, anyway! So what if theyâ€™re a bit older â€” Chandler was the defensive anchor for a championship team, Nene is coming off the best season of his career, and Westâ€™s consistent scoring at the 4 is very valuableâ€¦
Hold up. Nene and Chandler are asking for near-max deals? Hmm, I donâ€™t know about that. Come to think of it, I donâ€™t know about David Westâ€™s knee, either. Who else could I go after? Maybe thereâ€™s a chance the Clippers donâ€™t match a DeAndre Jordan offer sheet.. I could be the guy who offers Greg Oden a 3-year dealâ€¦ Hey, Andris Biedrins was really good a couple of seasons agoâ€¦ Samuel Dalembert can still block shots, you knowâ€¦ Joel Przybilla might be a bargain if he can stay on the floorâ€¦
Oh, I have an idea: Anderson Varejao.
Of course, Andy isnâ€™t a free agent. But heâ€™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, itâ€™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 doesnâ€™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, heâ€™ll be making $9.95 million (unless heâ€™s cut – only $4 million of that is guaranteed). For one of the best defensive players on the planet, this is a bargain. He doesnâ€™t give you the scoring you can get from Nene or Marc Gasol and he doesnâ€™t guard the 5 as well as Chandler, but heâ€™s not just an energy player. Heâ€™s almost unmatched in terms of defending the pick and roll and heâ€™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 heâ€™s 100 percent healthy. Thereâ€™s sure to be some rust at the beginning of the season because he didnâ€™t play any basketball for 11 months, but for a contending team or one thatâ€™s a piece or two away, heâ€™d be a fantastic acquisition. A savvy GM will realize that he wonâ€™t kill your cap situation or let you down in a few seasons, as well.