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“The Cavs have about $10 million in cap room, making them a prime candidate to absorb salary as either a main player in a two-team trade or a facilitator in a larger deal. The prize here is obviously Anderson Varejao, an ace defender, rebounder, and passer who has hit a bit of a scoring rut after a hot start. Every team could use a guy like this on an affordable deal; the need is simply more urgent in some places. Cleveland GM Chris Grant is a huge Varejao fan, and he’ll be asking a ton in return. But with Saturday in the rearview, they also have two semi-intriguing players on cheap contracts that are now trade-eligible: Alonzo Gee and C.J. Miles.” [Lowe/Grantland]
For those interested in combing through draft prospects already, here you go. [AFC to NFC]
“Anderson Varejao’s overall production has started to wane slightly. At one point, Varejao was in the top 5 in the entire NBA in various composite production stats. That’s completely ludicrous, as he’s spent the majority of his NBA career being a “no-stats All-star”. He’s still killing it, but it’s more “All-Star” and less “1st Team All-NBA”. Since his otherworldly streak of double doubles ended, Wild thing has finished 4 of 6 games in single figure scoring, including an 0-9 stinkbomb. Since the last installment of this column, Varejao is shooting 36% from the field. To the naked eye, it seems that Varejao’s Kevin Garnett-like proficiency from 18 feet was a mirage. Wild thing is still swallowing up an obscene amount of loose balls. He leads the league by a country mile in offensive rebounds (this could have been the topic of today’s “outliers”) and total rebounds, and has just a slight edge on the rest of the NBA in defensive rebounds. Of note, I’ve watched a lot of Varejao this season and I’ve tried to verify if he, Byron Scott, or any of the Cavs are trying to pad his stats. The answer is an emphatic HELL NO. Andy concedes just about any rebound to a teammate if there are no opponents in the area, he doesn’t play garbage minutes, and the Cavs, as Nate has often pointed out, never runs plays for him, even if some think they should.” [Pestak/Cavs the Blog]
Your Browns snap counts. “With the amount of reps Dimitri Patterson received in a game like this, you just wouldn’t have pictured him being cut the very next day. I guess we’ll see a lot more of Buster Skrine again over the final two games after he only played one snap against the Redskins. You can bank on Trevin Wade being active again too.” [Pokorny/Dawgs by Nature]
Taking Jonathan Hankins’ spot– “Michael Bennett is the top choice to fill a big role in the middle of the defensive line, as he has seen extensive playing time on the unit. The problem with automatically slotting him in as playmaker is that most of his time has been spent at strongside defensive end, not defensive tackle. A current sophomore, Bennett battled injury throughout his second year on the roster, but still was able to be productive during OSU’s undefeated 2012 season. In eight games as a reserve, he had 11 tackles (1 for loss), a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pass deflection.
That followed a freshman campaign where he played in all of the team’s 13 games, tallying 17 tackles (5 for loss) and 3 sacks, at times playing on the inside and showing the ability to be able to do so more frequently at some point in his Ohio State career. With Adolphus Washington stepping up at the end of the season at weakside end, it appears inevitable that Bennett will move to one of the inside spots left open by Hankins and Garrett Goebel, but will he be able to step up to the task? At 6-3/285, the staff if certainly going to want him to put on “good weight” while maintaining his speed, and if he can do that, he can be a force in both stopping the run and rushing the passers, possibly even giving Vrabel a more versatile player than either of his predecessors were.” [Gleitman/Eleven Warriors]