If you're a Cavs fan you're probably ready to either exit out of this article or start posting an angry comment about how truly idiotic I am. I invite you to offer any opinion you wish of me (try to leave my parents out of it) but please consider my explanation before doing so.
While Varejao has long been a fan favorite for his reckless and high effort style of play, he should not be considered absolutely untouchable in possible trade scenarios.
The Cavs have made it clear that prying the Brazilian big man away from them would require a good deal for them (and if you think anyone is untouchable remember they parted with Big Z without an absolute guarantee that he would be bought out).
Giving up Varejao may seem steep, particularly considering his current level of play and the downgrade of talent that bringing in Kaman would create.
It gets worse when I say that because Varejao's contract is $7million/year, and Kaman's is $14million/year, the Cavs would have to give up more. Fortunately, the area they are perhaps deepest at is the point guard position.
Obviously trading Kyrie Irving won't happen, despite the New Orleans interest. That leaves either Daniel Gibson or Ramon Sessions as trade possibilities.
Both have similar contracts at just under $4.5 million, so the Cavs have to be willing to give up whomever the Hornets prefer.
If absolutely necessary, the Cavs can throw in either a 2nd round draft pick or their protected 1st round pick, acquired from the Kings, in the trade that sent J.J. Hickson packing.
With Sacramento looking as a certain lottery team this season, the pick would move to the next year and in all likelihood will end up turning in to a 2nd round pick in a few years.
To put it plainly, the draft pick from the Kings is not an asset the Cavs can count on for much.
The price for an expiring contract is going to be high because New Orleans will want assets that they can either use in rebuilding or possibly trade in the future. In order to get value they must be willing to give up value in exchange.
Why it works:
Age: Varejao, like Kaman, will turn 30 years old within this calendar year. As s player who relies on his hustle and effort, it's realistic to expect his effectiveness will start to drop off with age.
The Cavs are most likely two to three years away from truly contending for a title, making Anderson 31 or 32. While they will try to keep Kyrie Irving in a Cavs uniform for the next seven to 10 years, Varejao will not be a part of the nucleus that far down the road, unless he can drastically improve his offensive skill set extending his effectiveness.
Production: It's true that Varejao has better rebounding numbers than Kaman but it should be noted that their point production is similar.
While Varejao averages 11 rebounds per contest, Kaman is not a huge drop-off at around seven rebounds a game. Kaman's field goal percentage is lower, primarily because he settles for mid range jump shots far more often than Varejao, who scores primarily under the basket.
While Kaman's field goal percentage is lower, he has a better free throw percentage and slightly higher blocks per game. The production is rather close even though Varejao is the better player.
Cap Space: This is the key to this trade and really the only reason you even consider doing it. Whether the Cavs choose to go the route of the Oklahoma City Thunder (drafting talented young players to form a key nucleus) or that of the Miami Heat and New York Knicks (signing established superstars and surrounding them with veterans making the league minimum). One thing is certain. Having cap space is never a bad thing in building for a future elite team.
New Orleans benefits here because the total dollar figure of Varejao and Sessions (or Gibson) is less than Kaman, but they are still adding a relatively young player in Sessions and a talent upgrade in Varejao, who could potentially be traded later to a contending team for young pieces. In addition, the Hornets could ask for draft picks to sweeten the pot.
The Cavs only real benefit is to clear cap space for the future. By trading Varejao and Sessions for Kaman they clear an extra $12 million in cap space to use next year.
With the addition of the one-time amnesty clause this season they were able to release Baron Davis, who still had two years left on his contract, without having his salary for next year (just under $15million) count against the cap. Between using the clause on Davis, Antawn Jamison's expiring contract, and acquiring Kaman's expiring contract. The Cavs would clear roughly $44 million from their books.
Why it doesn't work:
Production: How can production be listed under both the positives and negatives to making this deal?
Well on the positive side we understand that giving up Varejao for Kaman does not cripple the team, but make no mistake, there is a drop off.
Their numbers are similar but in addition to losing some rebounds the Cavs lose out on the intangibles that Varejao brings to the table. In the fast paced Princeton offense Varejao is almost as good as it gets from the center position.
With Kaman you won't see many transition points coming from the center position, he just doesn't get down the floor as quickly. You also have a more, straight up style defender in Kaman, who isn't going to be as disruptive from constantly moving for position.
Kaman will stay between the man he is guarding and the basket and use his length to disrupt the shot. Put simply, you will see a drop off at the position with this trade. While it is not catastrophic, it would be noticeable and eliminate the chemistry Irving has developed with Varejao.
Depth: This is pertaining to the point guard position obviously. If the Cavs deal Gibson they lose outside shooting. If they deal Sessions they lose their backup true point guard who runs the offense when Irving is on the bench.
Can Gibson run the offense? This has been one critique of the veteran out of Texas since he came in to the league. While he is adequate, many believe Gibson to be more of an undersized shooting guard than a true point guard. The team would most likely need to add a backup point guard later on to ease Irving's burden.