Fox Sports Ohio and NBA.com reporter Sam Amico posted the following on his Twitter account today:
Blazers are on [sic] team that really likes Andy Varejao. Rockets another. Spurs too. But especially Blazers.
This is the first we’ve heard of Rich Cho possibly making a move to bring in frontcourt depth beyond adding a center for training camp. Given the Blazers’ uncertainty at the center position with Jeff Pendergraph out for the season with a torn ACL and return dates for Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla still unclear, the Brazilian-born Varejao is exactly the kind of player Portland should be looking to add. He’s a scrappy, hard-nosed defender who can play both the power forward and center positions, take charges as well as anyone in the league (detractors call him a flopper, but the results are hard to argue with), and score in the paint.
It’s obvious why the Cavaliers are looking to move Varejao: the six-year, $48 million contract he signed in the summer of 2009 is going to greatly inhibit their ability to rebuild for the post-LeBron era. While that contract is more than a bit rich for a sixth man, the need that he would fill for the Blazers makes it a burden worth shouldering, especially since the last year is only partially guaranteed.
As far as trade scenarios, Cleveland would likely be looking for cap relief and possibly a young player or two, although Varejao isn’t exactly the caliber of player they could demand a Nicolas Batum-level prospect for. He is due to make $7.2 million in 2010-11, which means that either one of the Blazers’ two big expiring contracts (Przybilla and Andre Miller) would make a deal work financially. Including Miller in a trade doesn’t make a great deal of sense for either club: the Blazers don’t have a sure-thing replacement at point guard lined up, while the Cavs acquired Ramon Sessions from Minnesota this summer and still have Mo Williams expecting to play big minutes. Przybilla, once healthy, would provide a solid replacement for the Cavaliers in the middle, where they are severely lacking in size following the departures of Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O’Neal. He also carries a $7.4 million expiring contract, which would greatly aid the Cavs’ rebuilding efforts.
Additionally, it’s very possible that the Cavs would waive Przybilla following the trade, freeing him up to re-sign with Portland after 30 days, just as Ilgauskas returned to Cleveland after being dealt to Washington at the 2010 trade deadline for Antawn Jamison. Either way, while Przybilla has been a rock-solid rebounder and shot-blocker for the Blazers, a center rotation of Marcus Camby and Varejao is vastly preferable to the Blazers’ current plan, which involves playing LaMarcus Aldridge for significant minutes at the center position, where he has proven not to be anywhere near as effective as he is at power forward. Once Oden returns to the court, Varejao can slide ably over to power forward to become a full-time backup for Aldridge.
As the beginning of the regular season approaches, the Blazers’ pursuit of Varejao will likely either gain steam or die off as yet another unfounded trade rumor. But Przybilla and possibly Rudy Fernandez (if the Cavs demand something more than pure cap relief) for a versatile, tough defender like Varejao is a deal that absolutely makes sense for the Blazers.