Cleveland Cavaliers Need to Monitor Anderson Varejao's Workload

Greg SwartzCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterDecember 17, 2012

Nov 3, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA;  Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (17) looks on during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.  The Bucks defeated the Cavaliers 105-102.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao is enjoying a career year with highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and free throw percentage.

Another statistical high for Varejao is minutes, he's averaging nearly 36 per game as of December 17th.

While this isn't near the league leaders, one has to keep in mind the style in which Varejao plays the game.

Andy, now 30 years of age, has been playing a very physical style of basketball his entire career.  This means taking charges, diving for lose balls, sacrificing his body and, yes, even flopping.

All of this wear and tear on his body has to be kept in mind when monitoring Varejao's minutes.

As I mentioned before, Varejao is having a marvelous season.

His 14.6 rebounds per game are good enough for the top of the list in the entire league, and his assists (3.4 per game) are third among all centers.  To find a big man who's not only a good defender and rebounder, but can also pass and score at anything less than a maximum contract is nearly impossible.

That is, except if you're Varejao.

Speaking of contracts, Andy's is one of the best dollar for dollar bargains in the league.

Owed just $17 million over the next two years, Varejao also carries a team option for a third year at $9.8 million.

For someone playing so well and making such reasonable money, the Cavs really can't lose in terms of keeping or trading their Brazilian big man.

They only way they lose is by overworking Andy.

Not to dig up the past, but Varejao has had trouble staying on the court before. 

In 2010-11, Varejao missed 51 games with a foot and ankle injury.  Last season, Andy made it just 25 games before fracturing his wrist, again missing the majority of the season.

Whispers were heard claiming that the Cavs had made a mistake by not trading Varejao, as he seemed to be getting more fragile in his older age.

Now, with more scares this season, one can't help but wonder what the benefits of giving Varejao so many minutes are.

As of December 17th, Cleveland was 5-20; good for next to last in the Eastern Conference.  As well as Varejao is playing, his production alone isn't helping the team win.

If there was ever a time to trade Varejao, it's now.  His stock has never been higher as Andy will almost assuredly make the All-Star team this season, and he comes at a very affordable price.

If the Cavs choose to keep Varejao, he can still help them in a year or two when they should be a fighting playoff team.

If the Cavs choose to trade Varejao, he would likely return a nice collection of young talent and/or draft picks.

If the Cavs choose to continue what they're doing by giving Varejao 36 minutes of running, diving, pushing, fighting for position, taking charges and overall abuse to his body, history may be doomed to repeat itself.

The message is simple, Varejao can only help the Cavs in one way or another if he remains on the court.

If Cleveland could keep Andy around 28-30 minutes a night instead of the 36 he's currently getting, the risk of injury would be much lower.  This would give them the option of trading him for high value players or keeping his body fresher for future contending years.

Varejao is no doubt a great player, but he's not indestructible.