ATLANTA – The Warriors signed center Anderson Varejao on Monday, and the Brazilian is expected to receive immediate playing time.
“I wanted to go to a team with a chance to fight for the title,” Varejao said in a statement in Portuguese. “But also I wanted to play.”
The 33-year-old Varejao only played in 31 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, averaging 2.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 10 minutes before he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers and waived.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Varejao could make his debut for the team as soon as Wednesday when the Warriors play at Miami.
“I plan on playing him to get him some rhythm,” Kerr said. “He hasn’t played much at all this year, and he says he’s healthy, and he’s been practicing all year and feels good. So the one thing he’ll need is some rhythm, so we want to get him some minutes as soon as we can.”
Varejao reached agreement on a contract with the Warriors after also receiving interest from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs, according to his public relations agency.
“He’s hard not to like,” Kerr said. “He’s the guy who gives effort multiple times in one possession and competes every second he’s out there. And the enthusiasm that he plays with and from what I gather his personality in the locker room, yeah, he’s going to be a fan favorite in Golden State just like he was in Cleveland.”
Varejao said his friendships with former Cavaliers teammates Shaun Livingston, Marreese Speights and Luke Walton along with countryman Leandro Barbosa weighed heavily in choosing the Warriors.
Kerr said according to Walton, Varejao was one of the best teammates he ever had and was similar as a passing and screening big man to Andrew Bogut.
“We also think he’s a perfect fit with the way we play because he’s a playmaker – dribble handoff, backdoor pass guy,” Kerr said. “He’s a lot like Bogues in his feel for the game, and he’s also a wonderful teammate.”
Kerr said there was no hesitancy with making a roster change with the team having a 49-5 record.
“No because we’re not changing anything dramatically,” Kerr said. “We’re still going to be who we are, and we’re not taking out a rotation player to do anything. We have our core intact. We have our group intact, but we’re adding a guy who’s going to give us depth and adds another playmaker.
“To have another one means we have the depth where we can withstand some injury and still do what we do.”
Little-used forward Jason Thompson was waived to clear room for Varejao on the roster.
“It’s obviously tough to see one of your brothers, J.T., move on, but I think it’s a good move for us to deepen our lineup, especially at the big man spot with Festus out,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said.
Kerr said the 6-foot-11 Varejao was a true center while at forward the team preferred to go small rather than use the 6-foot-11 Thompson.
“Jason Thompson is a fantastic human being and teammate, and it was really hard to make the move because he’s been so good in our locker room,” Kerr said. “But he handled it like the true professional that he is. It was a very difficult conversation to have, and we wish nothing but the best for Jason. He deserves it.”