SALT LAKE CITY: With the NBA’s trade deadline two months away, the Cavaliers are already searching for ways to add another first-round pick in next summer’s draft. What assets they’d have to use to get there, however, remain hazy.
Trade talks will heat up closer to the All-Star Game and teams will inevitably call to inquire about the availability of center Anderson Varejao. Cavs coach Byron Scott, though, doesn’t believe Varejao is going anywhere.
“It would have to be an unbelievable person to get back,” Scott said when asked if the Cavs could part with Varejao. “I look at him as one of the guys you look at and say ‘He’s not going anywhere.’ I just feel that strongly about him and what he means to this team.”
Varejao, 29, entered Tuesday’s game at the Utah Jazz averaging 9.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He had 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks in the win last week at the Minnesota Timberwolves, the first NBA player to produce a line like that in nearly two years.
“I’m doing what I always did for this team, just playing hard and trying to help the team defensively,” Varejao said. “For some reason, it’s showing more in the stats.”
He’s under the Cavs’ control for three more seasons after this one at a total of $27 million. He’s making less than $8 million this season, so it would be an attractive contract to a contender tight on cap space.
The Cavs struggled defending the interior last season after Varejao injured his ankle. In fact, just the night before the injury, Scott had mentioned to staff members the one person the Cavs could ill-afford to lose to injury was Varejao.
The next day, Varejao rolled his ankle and tore a ligament during a post-practice run. He missed the remainder of the season.
“I guess I should’ve kept my mouth shut,” Scott said. “Words can’t express how good it is to have Andy back because of what he means to the team and what he brings.”
Veterans such as Antawn Jamison and Anthony Parker are more vocal than Varejao both on the floor and in the locker room, but Varejao is a leader on this team in his own way.
“Leadership to me is the way you act. The way you do things,” he said. “Practice and the games, after the games, before the games, it’s not always talking. It’s acting and the way you do things. To me I’m fine with that.”
The Cavs brought in Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter and Tristan Thompson to work out against each other prior to the draft last summer. The three players went 2-3-4 in the draft.
Thompson was the final player selected of the three, but thought he did well in his workout against the other two.
“I did OK,” Thompson said. “Chris Grant knows how I did.”
Kanter and Semih Erden are both from Turkey and played on the same Euroleague team a few years ago when Kanter was just 15. That means he knows Erden better than anyone in Cleveland.
“He’s a skilled player with a soft touch. He can shoot the ball really well,” Kanter said. “When he’s [healthy], I think he’s going to be really important for Cleveland.”
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