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Potential Trade Stops For Anderson Varejao

The Cleveland Cavaliers fired general manager Chris Grant several days ago. Will more moves be on the way in Cleveland?

Lang Greene

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The Cleveland Cavaliers made waves last week by firing general manager Chris Grant. While the Cavaliers have undoubtedly struggled to start the season, the firing of front office executives before the All-Star break is a rare occurrence.

With the February 20 trade deadline looming and the Cavaliers potentially eyeing the draft lottery for the fourth consecutive year,  you can expect a few roster transactions to follow if an opportunity properly presents itself.

One of the Cavaliers’ most attractive assets come trade time will be veteran center Anderson Varejao. The 31-year-old is on the books this season for $9 million and his $9.7 million salary in 2015 is only guaranteed for $4 million.

There are numerous teams, a couple in the midst of making a run at the playoffs, who could use the production Varejao provides on the interior.

Let’s take a look at a few teams that have the assets to potentially make a run at Varejao should there be interest in his services:

Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns won a grand total of 25 games last season and have already exceeded that total before the All-Star break. The Suns (29-20) are currently seventh in the Western Conference standings and have recently emerged as a potential buyer at the trade deadline.

According to numerous reports, the Suns are looking to acquire an All-Star caliber veteran to aid in their playoff push. Recently, the team has been linked to former All-Star forward Pau Gasol but talks with the Los Angeles Lakers have seemingly stalled.

The Suns could potentially have four first round picks in this year’s draft, which is considered to be one of the best in years. Phoenix also has the insured expiring contract of veteran center Emeka Okafor to use in any deals.

In regards to finances, the Suns have $5.7 million in remaining cap space and just $23 million in guaranteed salaries on the books for next season.

Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has a long history of making deals at the trade deadline and with the Rockets sitting in the Western Conference’s top five, this year won’t be any different.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Morey has admired Varejao’s game for years so it is a situation to keep an eye on. To be clear, Morey hasn’t been engaged in discussions with the Cavaliers on acquiring Varejao, but the Rockets could be in play for a center to backup Dwight Howard with the uncertain future of the disgruntled Omer Asik with the franchise.

Asik has made no secret of his desire to play a more prominent role and with Howard in Houston it likely won’t come with the Rockets. Asik’s cap hit is $8.4 million for this season and the 2015 campaign.

Los Angeles Lakers

According to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Lakers inquired about Varejao in early January but were quickly rebuffed by the Grant regime. While the Lakers have been hesitant to add any long term salary because of their need to protect cap space this summer, the reported inquiry into Varejao should be noted.

Gasol is on the books for $19.3 million this season, but will be headed to unrestricted free agency this summer. The veteran could be a stabilizing presence in the Cavaliers’ locker room, which has been rocky all year. While the Lakers have been trying to avoiding adding long-term money, the team will potentially have a void to fill at center during the offseason and Varejao is a decent option provided he remains healthy.

From 2011-13, Varejao only played 50 games due to various injuries. The veteran has played in 46 contests already this season and is averaging 8.9 points and 10.3 rebounds in 30 minutes of action per night.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#28 – Jacob Evans – Golden State Warriors

Jesse Blancarte

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With the 28th overall pick, the Golden State Warriors selected Cincinnati Junior Jacob Evans.

Evans represents a solid pick for nearly any NBA team. Evans fits in the mold of a potential 3-and-D role player. Evans improved in his time at Cincinnati, culminating in his junior year, where he scored 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Evans spent three seasons at Cincinnati and rounded himself into a versatile two-way player who can bring a lot of value at the NBA level.

Evans is a very cognitive player, especially on the defensive end. He has a better grasp of his limitations than most players at this stage of their respective careers and is able to maximize his individual defensive ability within a team concept. Evans generally makes the right rotations, double-teams at the right times and funnels his opponents to where his teammates are when he cannot contain the ball-handler on his own. With the right coaching, he could become a valuable defensive wing in an NBA rotation sooner than some anticipate.

Additionally, Evans is more than just a shooter. He led his team in assists last season and has some skill as a playmaker. Evans will be more of a shooter and finisher in the NBA, but the ability to make the right pass, swing the ball when he isn’t open and take the ball off the dribble when necessary make him an intriguing prospect. This is especially true when you consider how valuable a player like Khris Middleton has become over the years, adding layers to his 3-and-D skill set each season.

The Warriors aren’t in need of an influx of talent but are happy to add Evans regardless.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#27 – Robert Williams III – Boston Celtics

With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Ben Nadeau

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With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Although there were early week rumors that the Celtics might try to trade up, they’ve ultimately elected to find a difference-maker at the end of the first round instead. For a team that nearly reached the NBA Finals despite debilitating injuries to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, Boston’s roster didn’t need a wholesale change on draft night. But at No. 27, they’ll be more than happy to leave with the mysterious-but-talented Williams.

Last year, Williams was viewed as a potential first-rounder before he returned to Texas A&M for his sophomore year. In 2017-18, Williams averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds on 63.2 percent from the field, fueling the Aggies to a 22-13 record. During this current pre-draft process, Williams looked poised to become a mid-first-round selection once again — but his stock faded as the big night got closer. In fact, Williams even decided to watch the draft with his family, even though he was a green room invitee.

His stock has undoubtedly dropped as of late, but this may end up being the steal of the draft — naturally, he dropped right into general manager Danny Ainge’s lap. Williams, 6-foot-10, is a freak athlete that’ll bring a new look to an already fearsome defensive unit in Boston. At A&M, Williams won back-to-back SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and averaged 2.5 blocks per game. Of course, he’ll get the opportunity to learn from the hard-nosed Al Horford, a five-time All-Star and the defensive linchpin for Boston — a win-win situation for all.

Williams, 20, joins an extremely young core in Boston that also includes Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum, among others.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#26 – Landry Shamet – Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers select Landry Shamet with the 26th overall pick.

Dennis Chambers

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With the 26th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select guard Landry Shamet of Wichita State.

Shamet, if he is able to fulfill his potential, should provide the Sixers with some much-needed shooting, as their rotation was noticeably starved for another deadeye sniper.

A career 43.7 percent three-point shooter, Shamet sank 44.2 percent of his shots from downtown last season, and he did so while firing nearly six attempts from deep a game. Sliding Shamet at the guard position alongside franchise point guard Ben Simmons allows for another weapon at Simmons’ disposal.

Standing at 6-foot-5 and 21 years old, Shamet has the size to play either guard spot in the NBA (especially given Philadelphia’s lengthy and versatile lineup). Along with his shooting ability, Shamet also led the American Athletic Conference with 166 assists last season. With Markelle Fultz still a question mark for Philadelphia, Shamet provides a secondary ball-handler and playmaker, whether in the starting lineup or in the reserve unit.

The first round of the 2018 NBA Draft was a whirlwind for the Sixers, and they ultimately land two guards of very separate varieties: an upside-laden athlete in Zhaire Smith, and a skillful “veteran” rookie whose skillset is established.

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