Anderson Varejao Injury: Cavs Can't Be Blamed for Failing to Trade Big Man

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2013

MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 03: Anderson Varejao #17 of the Cleveland Cavaliers pulls down a rebound during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Bradley Center on November 3, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers aren't at fault for failing to offload Anderson Varejao before the NBA trade deadline.

Already out with an ankle injury, Varejao will miss the rest of the season with a blood clot in his lung (h/t USA Today).

The big man was the subject of many trade rumors before the ankle injury. Any of those possible deals are almost certainly dead in the water.

Fans might now be criticizing Cavaliers management for not pulling the trigger on one of the various deals that had been thrown about.

Cleveland was taking a risk in believing Varejao would stay healthy long enough to get a deal worthwhile. Coming into the year, he had played in only 66 games in the previous two seasons.

Although it didn't pay off, it would be the ultimate in armchair quarterbacking, or whatever the basketball equivalent, to criticize the team now.

The ankle injury did hurt some of Varejao's trade value, but the team might have been able to still move him before the deadline. No one could have predicted the blood clot to occur, so it's not as if this was a contingency the team could have planned for.

Even with the ankle injury, the Cavs had the definite upper hand in trade negotiations. They were wise to get as close to the trade deadline as possible and wait for the other team to blink.

It's not as if the Cavs absolutely needed to move Varejao right now.

They're not in the same situation as the Memphis Grizzlies with Rudy Gay. The Grizzlies are hitting a point where they have to trade Gay for financial reasons. Everyone in the league knows sooner or later, Memphis will get rid of him.

Cleveland is not in the same situation with Varejao. His contract is very manageable for the team. He's due $17.5 million this year and next. Then in 2014-15, the team has a $9.8 million option (h/t HoopsHype).

Then, you have to look at what Varejao was bringing to the court this year. When he went down with the ankle injury, he was leading the league in rebounding, at 14.4 boards a game. He had also been averaging 14.1 points a game, a career high.

That $28 million he could make over the next three seasons is fair value when you consider his production this season.

At 30 years old, before the news of the blood clot, you could expect Varejao's game to naturally decline, however, he still would have had a few good years left. That's still likely to happen, but with something as serious as that, you can never know for sure.

If the Cavs are determined to trade Varejao, there's still plenty of time for that to happen.