“…if I were Danny Ainge, I’d offer O’Neal’s expiring, my 2012 no. 1 AND the Clippers’ no. 1 for him.2 Wouldn’t you take your chances with a Rondo-Allen-Pierce-Garnett-Varejao quintet this spring? Or am I just a complete homer?” -Bill Simmons
Ok Sports Guy. I’ll take on your proposed trade. Here is the offer as you have laid it out.
Cleveland gets: Jermaine O’Neal ($6.226 million), plus Boston’s 2012 first round pick and the Clippers’ 2012 first round pick.
Boston gets: Anderson Varejao ($7.7 million).
Let’s take a hard look at those draft picks first. The Clippers’ pick is technically the lessor of L.A.’s or Minnesota’s pick, but you would have to imagine it would take a few monumental injuries for Minny’s pick to be worse than the Clippers’ pick. Additionally, that pick is top 10 protected this year, so injuries to say CP3 and Blake Griffin would knock them below Minnesota in all likelihood, but also into protected territory.
According to the standings as they are now, the Clippers’s pick would be the 23rd. We’ll say they finish between 20 and 25 for argument’s sake. Boston would pick 15th, however they have started to play better as of late (7-3 last 10). You would have to assume that acquiring Varejao would help them increase their winning percentage and their standing. Hollinger’s analysis via ESPN’s trade machine says the Celtics would gain 5 wins with this move. (Incidentally, the Cavaliers would lose 8 according to the same. Personally, I think both those figures are low, but that could be my homerness.) With Varejao, I can’t imagine the Celtics picking less than 18th, and anywhere from 20-22nd is a good possibility.
So let’s use the 18th and 20th picks as not entirely likely, but possible picks.
Would you swap Varejao for cap space and the 18th and 2oth picks in this year’s draft? Let’s go back and look at recent selections at those spots.
2010: Eric Bledsoe PG and James Anderson SG
2009: Ty LawsonPG and Eric Maynor PG
2008: JaVale McGee C and Alexis Ajinca C
2007: Marco Belinelli SG and Jason Smith PF
2006: Olexisy Pecherov PF and Renaldo Blackmon SF
2005: Gerald Green SF and Julius Hodge SF
2004: JR Smith SG and Jameer Nelson PG
2003 : David West PF and Dahntay Jones SG
2002: Curtis Borchardt C and Kareem Rush SG
2001: *Jason Collins C and Zach Randolph PF (Minnesota forfeited pick #18 and Collins was selected next.)
Ok, what was the point of that list? More than anything to show how much of a shot in the dark it is selecting from that position. The name that jumps out at me is David West. That’s 1 difference maker out of 20 picks. Lawson is a good player, and JR Smith has had his moments but West is clearly the class of this group.It might not be a coincidence that the year West was still available at 18 was the infamous LeBron/Carmello/Wade draft. Generally regarded as one of the best draft classes of all time, that class still had it’s share of misses. Darko Milicic, Mike Sweetney, Jarvis Hayes, Marcus Banks, Reece Gaines, Troy Bell and Zarko Cabarkapa all were selected ahead of West.
Those two picks are not exactly huge enticements for me to give up Varejao.
So what about the cap room? Well Simmons, you kind of hit the nail on the head in your side-note to the trade-
“Another plus with Varejao: He has a terrific contract. $7.7 million this year, then $27 million for the next three. I can’t imagine Cleveland dealing him unless they got two picks back. And even then … maybe not. Although people LOVE this draft. It’s twice as deep as normal, so if you end up with the 20th pick, it’s really like having the 10th pick in a normal season. Or so they claim.”
Already addressed the picks. Let’s talk about that contract. Where else are you going to get Varejao’s production for that kind of deal? The easy answer of course is with a rookie contract, but those players aren’t on the free agent market. Tristan Thompson will no way, no how be ready to fill those shoes next year. So, we’re talking about finding a free agent Center for less than $10 million per? Good luck with that. Sure, Cleveland will have Jamison’s contract off the books, and could choose to part ways with Daniel Gibson if they choose. Sessions (if he isn’t traded) has a player option for next season. All told the Cavaliers will be on the hook for about $33-34 million when they resign Gee and Samuels. Point being, they have salary cap room already. Yes, trading Varejao would free up another $9 million. To me, you will never get his production for that kind of money anywhere else.
Because I know someone will mention it, I have to agree up front that trading Varejao would help the team achieve more ping pong balls in the lottery. No doubt about that in my mind. To me that would be the only strategy that would make any kind of sense for this trade. Trading Andy, Sessions and waiving Jamison would likely give the Cavaliers a much better shot at a pick in the 1-5 range. But I am firmly in the camp that thinks Andy (age 29) will still be a factor when this team could be ready to compete. If nothing else, his on-court example is more than enough for me to have him around a bunch of young men learning to play the game at the highest level.
Sorry Bill, we’re going to have to pass.