How much will Anderson Varejao cost the Spurs?

By Quixem Ramirez

Dec 5, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (left) defends a shot attempt by Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (17) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao is in the midst of a career-year.

Through 18 games, Varejao is averaging career highs in points (15.0), assists (3.2), free throw percentage (.776) and player efficiency rating (23.6).

Not only is he scoring at a more proficient rate, in a career high 36.6 minutes per game, but he’s averaging 15.4 rebounds, leading the league. Varejao bests the NBA in both defensive rebounding (32.4) and total rebounding percentage (24.8).

You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the league cognoscenti that doesn’t view Varejao as an All-Star. But just how much would the San Antonio Spurs, in need of an infusion of frontcourt talent, offer to acquire the 30-year old Brazilian?’s Chad Ford believes it will cost at least, and likely more, than Kawhi Leonard, DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner:

They’re open to it. But it would have to be a very good deal. Varejao is playing as well as any big man in the NBA. There is no reason to trade him unless they are getting back multiple young assets in return. He has a cap friendly contract (based on his performance this year) … Kawhi Leonard would obviously be attractive to them, but it’s going to take more than that to get an All-Star center like Varejao.

Blair and Bonner make a paltry $8.6 million combined in the next two seasons, though some of their salary is unguaranteed. Varejao, meanwhile, is making $27.1 million in the next three seasons.

The biggest deterrent in the deal is Leonard, whose making $6.6 million before he enters restricted free agency in 2015-16. The Spurs are saving an average of seven million each season by keeping Leonard over Varejao and that could be enough to prevent any deal that sends Tiago Splitter’s frontcourt mate to San Antonio.