NBA

Is Anderson Varejao Trade the Key to Keeping Kevin Love in Minnesota?

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 05:  Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves plays against the Boston Celtics during the game on December 5, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2012

As the Cleveland Cavaliers start to wonder about the future of their team and how Anderson Varejao fits in, it seems that the Minnesota Timberwolves are at least somewhat interested, according to 1500ESPN.com, possibly in an attempt to prove a thing or two to Kevin Love.

As it seems now, the Cavs are just trying to gauge interest and determine what they could get for Varejao from other teams around the league. But there's at least a possibility that he could be on the move.

Varejao is an extremely valuable player and would be a definite contributor to a playoff team now and for the next few seasons.

What we need to understand more than anything, however, is that the Timberwolves have taken a strange route with Love, and it's not exactly conducive to making him a happy franchise player. General manager David Khan has gone about handling him in a very unsatisfactory way.

Initially, Love's role was unclear, but he proved himself as a starter in his rookie season, averaging nearly a double-double. The next season he was still used mainly as a reserve.

When he was finally given the starting spot in his third year, he broke out as the league's leading rebounder. The following season he broke out as one of the league's premier scorers. Everything was pointing to Love becoming one of the league's best players.

Love was legitimately stoked for the Timberwolves, and the team was headed in the right direction until they butchered how they handled his contract. 

The contract was a four-year maximum deal with an option for Love to opt out in the fourth year. Weirdest of all, Love was ready to sign a five-year deal, the maximum, but the team opted to lowball Love, so he requested the player option in return.

It was a strange back-and-forth between a continually puzzling franchise and a player who has been difficult to place a value on.

What is clear, however, is that Oklahoma City gave Russell Westbrook (the team's second-best player) the most lucrative contract possible, a five-year maximum deal. Minnesota, meanwhile, offered its best player a deal that could be expired after the 2015 season.

Not only does that send a negative message, but that puts immense pressure on the team to make the right decisions as quickly as possible.

Even worse, Love has already voiced his concerns and hinted at leaving and questioned the direction of the team since signing that extension, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Minnesota already did a great job at showing Love that it intends to be a good team as soon as possible when it had a productive free-agency period.

Not only did the Timberwolves sign Andrei Kirilenko (who has played at an All-Star level so far this season), but they gambled on Brandon Roy, took a run at Nicolas Batum and traded for Chase Budinger.

Of course, there's the question of Varejao's value. Is he really a guy who could turn a middling team into an upper-level squad in the Western Conference?

Well, we know he has plenty of playoff experience after playing with LeBron James through the 2010 season. But his value goes a bit deeper than that.

He's developed into an incredibly talented rebounder and scorer, but he's also an impressive passer as a big man. Varejao is a bit old, 30, but he doesn't rely on speed and athleticism. Instead, he gets by with instincts and sneaky strength.

Besides, it doesn't take a young guy to be a great rebounder. Dennis Rodman led the league in rebounds every season between the ages of 30 and 36, while Dikembe Mutombo led the league at 33 and 34.

In terms of changing a game, Varejao is among the best in the league at earning extra possessions for his team. He averages 5.6 offensive rebounds per game, is excellent at tapping offensive rebounds out to his teammates and continues to be great at taking charges.

Plus, think about Love and Varejao on the floor together. Would there be any chance of Minnesota giving up an offensive rebound? They would be a duo to contend with.

At the least, trading for Varejao would show Love that the team is willing to make the moves to invest in the immediate future.

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