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Pragmatism suits the Cavs in Andersen Varejão farewell

Sheamus Dalton, a Sports
Editor for the Voice, can

The NBA trade deadline usually means mayhem. Players go here and players go there as teams reinvent themselves in an effort to make a push for the playoffs. I have never worked in the front office of an NBA team but I can imagine that the days and nights leading up to the deadline are spent tirelessly devising trades and working with other teams to satisfy one another’s roster needs. It must be a very stressful experience.

Trade deadlines aren’t just stressful for a team’s front office but for fans, too. As a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, I was worried leading up to last week’s trade deadline. Rumors stirred that a three-team trade may send Kevin Love away from Cleveland while bringing Carmelo Anthony to the Cavs. I was legitimately worried. I knew that the deadline trades the Cavs made last season transformed Cleveland into a championship caliber team but I was doubtful of a Love for Anthony trade.

Luckily, the Cavs chose to add Channing Frye, a veteran wing player from the Magic, instead. This was a move I liked. Frye is not an elite player, but he will add another dimension to the Cavs offense, one that will improve their chances of beating a small-ball team such as the Warriors. (What a coincidence that the Cavs add a player that makes them more fit to face a team like the Warriors. NBA Finals spoiler alert?)

Frye is a good addition to the team, and he will surely help the Cavs as they think about how they can beat the Warriors, but he did come at a price. For Frye, the Cavs sent a conditional first round pick and one of their most beloved players, Anderson Varejão, to Portland (Portland immediately put him on waivers).

For anyone who has been a Cavs fan, they know Varejão has been one of Cleveland’s most outstanding players since he joined the team 2004. His trade ended a 12-year career at Cleveland for a man who was never an all-star player by NBA standards but always rocked incredible hair. What made Varejão great was that he embodied exactly what it meant to be a Clevelander. His scrappy, passionate style of play was endearing for Cavs fans and his leadership made in the locker room made him a player favorite.

Naturally, his departure has made many of the Cavs’ faithful upset. They feel that Cleveland mistreated Varejão by trading him away, even if it was for a solid player like Frye. He has been a constant on Cleveland’s roster and his trade brings a debate over team loyalty versus making roster moves to win. Was it wrong of Cleveland to send Varejão away willingly or did they make an acceptable, pragmatic move at the trade deadline?

While I am sad to see Varejão go, I think the Cavs front office made the right call in sending him away. If a 51-year championship drought in Cleveland isn’t enough to make Cavalier’s fans understand why David Griffith and the front office might be willing to part ways with Varejão, please listen to this logic. While Varejão used to be an important part of the Cavs’ team, he didn’t play much any more. He was averaging only two points and two rebounds in ten minutes a game this season. He has also struggled with injuries in recent seasons, including a season-ending Achilles tear last December.

I understand the sentiment in holding onto a veteran player, especially on a team like the Cavs who are favorites to represent the East in the Finals this year, but his worth on their team was low and if the Cavs are going to make a run at the championship this year, he unfortunately needed to go.

The consolation prize for Varejão is that he is now a Golden State Warriors after the team picked him up off waivers. He moved from the favorite in the East to not just the favorites to win the West but the favorite to win the NBA title. I can imagine Varejão might look back at this season, feel disappointed that he was sent away from his longtime home, but then feel his NBA championship ring get caught in his curls as he brushes his hands through his hair and feel pretty good about the move. For the Cavs and for Varejão, their deadline trade was the best move for both parties to secure their first share of an NBA title.

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