NBA Trade Rumors: Dealing Anderson Varejao Is Best Bet for Cavs Long-Term Future

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05:  Anderson Varejao #17 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates a two point shot in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on November 5, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. 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. The Cavaliers defeated the Clippers 108-101.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

With or without Anderson Varejao, the Cleveland Cavaliers aren't contending for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, much less an NBA championship, anytime soon.

The time has come to unload the veteran center with an eye towards the future.

Varejao, who has been out of action since mid-December due to a knee injury, (h/t ESPN), hasn't played in more than 40 games since the 2009-10 NBA season.

Yet he still has plenty of value around the league.

Sports Illustrated reports that the latest trade talk involving the 30-year-old center involves the Minnesota Timberwolves:

Report: Cavs, Wolves discussing deal for Varejao on.si.com/TU8Vzw

— SI NBA (@si_nba) January 6, 2013

The report goes on to say that the Timberwolves would want the Cavaliers to take back second-year forward Derrick Williams, while the Cavs are thought to prefer center Nikola Pekovic.

Regardless of whether it's Williams, Pekovic or a deal with another team entirely, now is the time for Cleveland to make a move.

Let's be brutally honest, shall we?

Sitting with an 8-27 record, the Cavs are going nowhere fast.

Tristan Thompson, Cleveland's second-year power forward, has thrived with Varejao out of the lineup, averaging 13.2 points and 12.9 rebounds in the nine games that the big Brazilian has missed to date.

Even rookie center Tyler Zeller, who has struggled with his post moves and hitting his shots consistently, has done markedly better as he gets more of a chance to run with the first unit.

In five games since taking over as the starter for Varejao, Zeller is averaging 12.2 points  and 6.8 rebounds per game.

With a core of point guard Kyrie Irving and Thompson, along with complementary players like Zeller and rookie guard Dion Waiters, Cleveland has some nice pieces to build around.

It's time to let those pieces continue to gel together on the court, playing meaningful minutes and gaining invaluable experience that will make the Cavaliers a better team in the long run.

The rest of this season can't be about winning games now—it has to be about winning games in the future.

Moving Varejao for an additional piece—or pieces—helps Cleveland achieve that goal.

 

Rick Weiner is a member of B/R's Breaking News Team.