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Above the Rim: 12-20-12

Dec 20, 2012 -- 6:00pm

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By Kenny Roda

TRADE ANDY NOW!

I hate to say it, because he’s one of the best players on the team. He’s one of the nicest guys to talk to in the locker room win or lose. But the time is now, or as soon as he comes back from his right knee injury, for Cavs General Manager Chris Grant to trade Anderson Varejao.

His value is never going to be higher. He’s playing at an all-star level, averaging 14.1 ppg and leading the NBA in rebounding with 14.4 rpg. He’s shooting close to 50% from the field and 75% from the free throw line. His contract is very salary-cap friendly, making $8.4 million dollars this season, plus two years remaining on a deal that never tops $10 million dollars per season. Added to all of that is the Cavs claiming the second-worst record in the NBA at (5-22) with Andy, so even if they do trade him, it’s not like they can get much worse.

By not dealing Varejao as soon as possible and waiting until the trading deadline of February 21, 2013, Chris Grant is taking the chance of the “Wild Thing” suffering a season ending injury like last year, that would make him untradeable.  Grant needs to be proactive and start exploring  which teams need or might have an interest in Varejao, and start playing them against each other.  I don’t want Grant to just give Andy away, but with the potential injury factor and trying to trade Andy early, Grant may not get equal or greater value for him. But isn’t it better to get something of value for him than to not get anything at all?  That’s the question owner Dan Gilbert and the rest of his front office and coaching staff have to ask themselves right now.

I would look at teams that are short on big men, are a player away from being a serious playoff team, are looking to dump contracts, have a player who is in the last year of his contract and will be a free agent next year, or have always liked Varejao, and call them – today. 

There are rumors that Minnesota is a team that has always liked Varejao and they have some tradeable assets of equal value in center Nikola Pekovic and shooting guard Alexey Shved. Utah, with second-year player Enes Kanter progressing at center and current post-man Al Jefferson in the final year of a $15 million dollar contract, could also be a target. Jefferson is averaging 17 ppg, 10 rpg, and is only 27 years old. Even though Oklahoma City has the best record in the league, they might still want to improve their chances of winning an NBA championship by showing some interest in Varejao. They have the assets to swing a deal. If you’re the Cavs, you’re looking for guys like Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones, and others. These are just three teams off the top of my head that I have come up with, so I’m guessing that Chris Grant and his staff could find more.

I would hate to see Andy go, I really would, because he’s a true pro who plays harder than anyone on the team and cares only about winning. But I would hate it even more if the Cavs missed their chance to trade the injury-prone Varejao at his peak. They have the opportunity to get players in return that could help this team get better now and in the long run when Andy’s play may start to decline and you can’t get anything for him. If the latter happens, all the Cavs will be left with is a missed opportunity to improve the team and this franchise.

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