The Minnesota Timberwolves have been no stranger to trade rumors over the past six months. In fact, you could say this team is the most desperate NBA squad in terms of making a championship-type splash.
Averaging 14.3 points and 14.8 rebounds in roughly 36.0 minutes per game, Varejao has finally realized his potential after years of playing fourth and fifth-fiddle to LeBron James. He's an emerging star at the center position, and Cleveland likely knows it can't keep him around after his contract expires at the end of 2014.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that the T'Wolves would be interested in a guard with the problems shooting guard Brandon Roy has had staying healthy on his degenerative knees.
According to ESPN 1500, the Cavs are actively shopping their double-double machine and the Timberwolves are in prime contention for his services. Here's an excerpt from the report:
League sources insist both Cleveland and Toronto have reached out in recent weeks. The Cavaliers are gauging interest in center Anderson Varejao, whom I'm told the Timberwolves like a lot. He's signed through 2015 at less than $10 million per season.
If that's the case, there's several scenarios that make sense for Minnesota. In this one, the Cavs get back Derrick Williams, who they seriously considered drafting with the No. 1 overall pick before taking Kyrie Irving and Dante Cunningham, a piece to help fill the void in the frontcourt. Minnesota would get Varejao and also send back a first-round pick in the process.
Here's another scenario: Williams still heads to Cleveland along with Nikola Pekovic, while the T'Wolves get back Varejao and C.J. Miles (can't be used on trade machine yet due to contract, so Omri Casspi's contract is plugged in).
According to ESPN contributor Derek James, sending back Pek might not be so crazy, depending on your point of view when it comes to the Wolves' chances.
If you believe Wolves have two more years in the "window", Varejao has two yrs. left on his deal. May make more sense than Pek longterm then— Derek James (@DerekJamesNBA) December 14, 2012
That's a tough pill to swallow if you're a Minnesota fan, because you've seen Pekovic grow from an unknown to one of the league's better rising star stories. Still, if it nets you a big man with the potential to form a two-man, 30-40 rebound per game machine in Varejao and Kevin Love, you do it.
The Pau Gasol front seems dead since the Lakers want more than Derrick Williams and that's really the only piece this team has to offer. It would certainly be nice to add Pau, but that doesn't seem likely. The Wolves are looking elsewhere, and this is a good place to start.
Since 2009, GM David Kahn leads the league in trades at 25. He has no problem shaking up the roster, but has made some moves that have drawn the ire of fans and other team officials—even his own star power forward.
Still, he has a chance to make a splash with Varejao that could propel the team to new heights, maybe even to a top eight seeding and a shot at the NBA playoffs. If this trade gains legs around the same time Ricky Rubio returns from ACL surgery, we could see a Minnesota team right there in the Western Conference race.
Wouldn't that be something?
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.