Cleveland’s most enticing trade asset – rugged Brazilian big man Anderson Varejao – was ruled out for the rest of the season in early January thanks to a torn ankle tendon. Varejao still hasn’t decided whether he’s going to have surgery on the ankle, but the severity of the injury brought an understandable halt to some thought-provoking negotiations that sources say had quietly begun to percolate between the Cavs and Oklahoma City.
The Thunder, as noted in Monday’s Power Rankings, began the week having outrebounded only 22 teams … compared to 55 last season. The Thunder, in short, need another big man to truly contend in the West. And they know it.
Varejao’s injury, though, essentially ensures that it won’t be him, tantalizing as it must be for Thunder fans to imagine what sort of impact he potentially could have had in the same frontcourt rotation with Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison.
Stein says the Cavs were likely going to ask for Jeff Green or James Harden, two players the Thunder isn’t all that interested in trading right now. However, Cole Aldrich, Byron Mullens, D.J. White and draft picks are things OKC is willing to discuss.
A week before Varejao was injured, I had heard from a person that would know that the Thunder was “interested” in talking with Cleveland about Varejao. From the way it sounded to me, it was extremely rumor-y and something that likely wasn’t happening. But evidently, maybe there was more chance of it than I thought.
Stein says OKC is looking for a veteran big that can defend and rebound with “greater regularity than Nenad Krstic.” It still sounds to me unlikely that the Thunder is going to be a big player at the deadline in terms of making a splash trade, but Sam Presti is definitely calling people. There are players out there that are being discussed (Carl Landry?) and it’s interesting to hear Stein say that OKC knows it needs to make a move.