Anderson Varejao was drafted by the Orlando Magic in the 2nd round of the 2004 NBA Draft. A month later, he was traded to the Cavaliers in the trade that brought Drew Gooden to Cleveland. Varejao then played his next 11 seasons with the Cavs, appearing in 71 playoff games for the team during LeBron’s first run with the franchise.
Varejao could have tried to force his way out during the non-LeBron years, but he stuck with the franchise and was rewarded when James returned, signing a 3-year contract extension right before the 2014-2015 season. Via ESPN:
"“I’m happy. I always said that I never wanted to leave Cleveland and that Cleveland was home for me,” Varejao said Friday night after the team’s 114-108 overtime win against the Bulls. “From the beginning when I got to Cleveland they really took care of me — the fans, the city and everything. I’m happy. I’m happy that I got my extension. I’m happy that I got at least three more years in Cleveland.”"
And here’s what LeBron had to say about his longtime teammate:
"“Congrats to him,” said LeBron James, now in his second stint as Varejao’s Cavs teammate, prior to Friday’s win. “Obviously, he’s worked hard. He’s been loyal to this franchise, and they rewarded him with it because of his hard work and his dedication to the game. It’s exciting for him, for sure. It allows him to [feel comfortable]. I know he already feels comfortable. He was in a few trade rumors last year, the year before and for him to be at this point right now, I think it’s successful for him.”"
Varejao was traded in February to make room on the roster for the Cavaliers to sign Channing Frye. Varejao never went to Portland and ended up signing with the Warriors. Frye has contributed on-and-off through the Cavs Eastern Conference playoffs run while Varejao has played less than 5 minutes a night in 11 games for the Warriors during the postseason.
Since the Warriors clinched their spot in the NBA Finals, a fun note to share has been that Varejao was now “guaranteed” a championship ring. This is false. If the Warriors win, he gets one. If the Cavs win, he’s not guaranteed anything.
Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers could choose to give him a ring based on his decade-plus of service to the team and the fact that he was on the team until February, but would you expect Dan Gilbert to do the right thing? This is the guy who… well… he traded Anderson Varejao in the first place.
Remember when LeBron James left for Miami? Here’s a portion of what Gilbert wrote – in Comic Sans – in an open letter to fans.
"“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”"
LeBron won two titles in Miami while the Cavaliers amassed a 97-215 record and missed the playoffs for four straight seasons. There’s no doubt he took Varejao signing with the Warriors as a slight. Especially with how complimentary Varejao was towards his new team, seemingly in comparison to his experience on the Cavaliers this season. If Varejao wants a ring, his best – and probably only – chance is for the Warriors to defend their title. Expecting Dan Gilbert to do the right thing is just foolish.