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Anderson Varejao says LeBron James could return to Cavaliers, which sounds like tampering

Nov 27, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

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Ever since LeBron James said he’d consider returning to the Cavaliers, it’s been fun to speculate.

Will he do it? How would it affect his legacy? How great would LeBron and Kyrie Irving be together?

It’s an interesting discussion, one that’s assuredly been held within in the league, by fans and many in between. And that’s great. Discussing NBA hypotheticals is a blast.

But one group that can’t partake in the conversation, at least not publically, is employees of the Cavaliers – employees like Center Anderson Varejao.

Varejao, via Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:

“It could happen,” Varejao said. “Bron is from Akron. Akron is not too far from here. Eventually in his career, he probably wants to play at home.”

And then unprovoked, the normally quiet Varejao said he didn’t like the way James left the Cavs via the one-hour television special.

“Going back to that, I think the way he left was wrong,” Varejao said. “But regardless … He helped me a lot, helped my game and helped me as a person. I have nothing against him. It could happen.”


The NBA defines tampering as when a player “directly or indirectly, entices, induces, persuades or attempts to entice, induce, or persuade any Player, Coach, Trainer, General Manager or any other person who is under contract to any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiates or contracts for such services.”

LeBron is under contract with another team, and Varejao is – at least by my interpretation – attempting to indirectly persuade LeBron to sign with Cleveland by playing up LeBron’s personal connection with the area.

So will Varejao be punished by the NBA? I have no idea.

I’ve repeatedly criticized the NBA for its vague tampering rules, which lead to selective enforcement.

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LeBron will likely play well against Cleveland tonight. The Cavaliers will likely be asked about him. They’ll likely compliment his play.

By the letter of the law, that’s tampering.

LeBron is under contract with Miami, and the Cavaliers would indirectly enticing him by praising him. Of course, none of them will be fined. That type of praised is doled out every night.

It’s just up to the league to rule however it sees fit. I guess we’ll at least learn what David Stern thinks of Varejao.

  1. elwaysagenius - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:37 AM


    • thetruthcampaign - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      Doesn’t sound like enticement of any kind to me.

  2. bougin89 - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    What would you call Lebron, Wade, and Bosh all making sure they had opt outs the same year when they negotiated their first max extensions so that they could “keep their options open” and then years later they all land on the same team when they all opted out?

    • jimeejohnson - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:32 AM


    • beach305 - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      I call it a smart business decision. Unlike Dwight and force your way out of a team, they kept quite and let their contract end. Then they looked at their options and decided that it was possible for them to play together.

      Stern said that players can to talk amongst themselves about free agency.

      Remember Gilbert, saying that he was going to uncover tampering and was spending $$$ on investigators and lawyers to find it. Well how did that go?

      • bougin89 - Nov 27, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        Fair or not, I think most Cavs and Magic fans felt just as burned by their respective player.

  3. ljl2 - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    This is a joke, right? He didn’t try to entice at all and even said it was bad how he left. Where were your cries of tampering when Riley took LeBron to dinner in 2010? Or all the talking about LeBron other teams/players did that year? Stop.

    • beach305 - Nov 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM

      Never happened. No secrete dinner.

      I think you are referring to a yahoo sports article about a suppose meeting between Riley had with James and Jordan when the Cavs were in town and Jordan was shooting a commercial (or some kind of marketing). It was suppose to talk about Jordan’s legacy and the Cav’s knew about it before hand.

  4. stadix093 - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:43 AM

    Playing with Kyrie would be appealing, but that Mike Brown hiring may come back to bite them. That and the fact that they may have just wasted the number one pick.

    • jamesk2465 - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:20 AM

      Lebron never said once he didn’t like MB. He basically said hes the reason for his good defense

    • jeffkx - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      Bennett has looked pretty bad, but I think once he gets back in shape he will be ok. The problem is Bennett was probably a 10th ranked player in a normal draft, and got drafted number one in a horrible draft. We here in Cleveland remember how bad Tristan Thompson looked his first two years, and then he really started improving. There was talk here in Cleveland about wanting Alex Len, and he is averaging what 2pts 2rebs a game?

    • jeffkx - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:32 AM

      But I do agree the Mike Brown hire (re-hire) had a lot of people here in Cleveland scratching their heads.

  5. msuspartan89 - Nov 27, 2013 at 9:43 AM


    guys lebron is staying in miami ok.

    • stadix093 - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:04 AM

      I am a Laker fan, I believe we can have almost everyone, and even I think Lebron is staying in Miami.

    • jeffkx - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      I think it has a lot to do with what Wade and Bosh do. Is LeBron going to want to stay with Wade if he exercises his $20m player option when it looks like his knees may go at anytime? What if Udonis and Joel Anthony and Bosh exercise their options as well? That would be $65m+ for 5 players and they would have to get a bunch of minimum guys. Now in Cleveland he could play with Kyrie, Tristan (who by the way is a pal of LeBron’s) and with some minor salary movies Cleveland could bring in another max type guy. And if the Cavs really suck this year (as I fear they will) they can get another top 10 (5?) pick in a loaded drafted. I’m from a suburb of Cleveland and want LeBron to come back, but I don’t think it’s set in stone that he stays in Miami.

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 27, 2013 at 12:03 PM

      Who knows, and honestly who cares. There is still a whole season of exciting basketball to play, let’s enjoy that then worry about where free agents are or aren’t going.

  6. heat256 - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    Can’t really see why he’d go back there, honestly. Irving has really yet to string together an injury-free season, and it’s not like anyone is seeing Bennett and Waiters light up the court. Plus GIlbert isn’t exactly the type of owner Micky Arison is nor is Brown the type of coach Spoelstra is. We are well aware of his affinity for Ohio, but he left for a reason. It would be highly unlikely they win any titles even if he goes back, and LeBron is at the apex of his talents now and winning titles cements his legacy even further with each one. Don’t think he’d want to waste 2-3 years of his prime while the other guys get their stuff together, and he won’t lure guys to CLE like he can to MIA.

    • spursareold - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      Playing Devil’s advocate:

      Wade is really done. He’s got three rings already. How many more pain shots in his knees is he going to get before he decides that maybe he’d like to be able to walk after the age of 45? That leaves LeBron with Bosh, who’s really just a glorified overpaid sidekick, and a bunch of role players and outright scrubs. Cleveland starts to look real good at that point….

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:58 AM

        Even if everything you say is true. Who would you trust to build a team around you, Micky Arison/Pat Riley/Erik Spoelstra or Dan Gilbert/Chris Grant/Mike Brown?

      • heat256 - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:21 AM

        Counter: Check Wade’s stats and convince me how he’s “done”. Wade is also playing for his legacy and his ego will allow him to take less money to bring more talent into MIA to take more of the burden off him and LeBron. James enjoys playing with Bosh, who doesn’t whine about his lack of touches and accepts the roles he’s been given. Scrubs? Like Norris Cole and Birdman, who James enjoys playing with? CLE doesn’t look good at all compared to that. LeBron will go to LAL before CLE.

      • Miami305 - Nov 28, 2013 at 10:16 AM

        I know you’re playing Devil’s advocate, but let me speak reality: DWade is playing incredibly. He is looking quick and explosive. The Heat are managing his playing time and giving him the rest he needs to maintain his flash-like abilities.

        Bosh has also been playing extremely well and is contributing to some of the best scoring the league has ever seen.

        The Heat are dominating right now and they are not even playing hard. Watch out NBA world, a 3peat is on the way!

  7. azarkhan - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    “Ever since LeBron James said he’d consider returning to the Cavaliers, it’s been fun to speculate.”

    Actually it’s tedious and absurd. No young multi-millionaire leaves vibrant, sunny Miami to move to rust belt Cleveland. Which brings us to another absurdity. Why is ESPN broadcasting Heat vs. Cavaliers when the game of the night is Spurs vs. Thunder? (Gee, I just can’t wait for a camera shot of chagrined Cavs owner Dan Gilbert as his team loses by 20.)

  8. cantonbound13 - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    What makes you think Irving is staying after his contract is up?

    • bougin89 - Nov 27, 2013 at 11:04 AM

      It’ll all depend on the Cavs roster/success in either the 2017 or 2018 off season.

  9. 1972wasalongtimeago - Nov 27, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    Think it’s only fair that the league award the Cavs 1st round unprotected 2014 pick to Miami. And we’ll let Gulbert’s kid gonup for the Lottery show

  10. miamatt - Nov 27, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    #1 As far as what Varejao said, I’d be hard pressed to make a case for that being tampering.

    #2 Why oh why would LeBron go back to the Cavs, at least while he is still in his prime? Mike Brown isn’t the worst coach but he’s hardly a selling point. The owner is the same man who all but called LeBron a runaway slave after “the decision”. And while Kyrie Irving is an excellent young point guard, he’s yet to show he can stay healthy for a whole season and carry a team to the lower rungs of the eastern conference playoff ladder, let alone be the 2nd best player on a championship team. The whole LBJ to Cleveland angle is pure Puh-leeeeeeeeeze….

    • universalseeder305 - Nov 27, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      Couldn’t agree more with you.
      The only way he’s going back to CLE is to sign a one day contract when he retires and CLE fans should cross their fingers hoping that happens!

    • shanelsweet - Nov 27, 2013 at 5:05 PM

      Yeah, right, and DH12 is staying with the Lakers. Guys like you don’t understand that players want to play in places where they’ll be happy. LeBron and his crew grew up Cav fans and still are at heart. His folks and all his folks folks love the area. It’s a country vs. city boy kind of thing. The hustle and bustle are nice for a bit, but Cleveland/Akron is home. He’ll come back and create whatever team he wants with whatever coach he wants because folks want to play and manage him. Can you say the same about Kobe?

  11. chiadam - Nov 27, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    How cute that he sat down and wrote this whole thing (all by himself!) without realizing that tampering rules do not apply to players. That’s a rule for management and ownership. Players do this all the time, like the wedding story with Carmelo and Chris Paul.

  12. legend30 - Nov 27, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    LeBron and Wade are definitely staying with Miami. The only question mark is Chris Bosh. Although I also expect him to stay with Miami. Pat Riley is s father figured to LeBron, and has help LeBron become a better person on-and-off the court. Pat Riley knows what he’s doing — he probably been planning this, since 2010. He’s an absolute genius.

  13. southbeachtalent - Nov 27, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Why would Cleveland want a quitter?

    Grow a spine Cleveland…

  14. somekat - Nov 27, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    I think it was possible, until the Cavs whiffed on the last 2 picks. Even if LeBron goes back there, it’s him Irving, Varajeo and not much else. Unless Bennett shows MUCH more than he has.

    Out side of being his home town team, I don’t see the appeal there (not as much as 20 other teams that will want him). He’s already played there……I could see at the end of his career wanting to go back and “set things right” with his home team. But at this point, I would think he’s going to go (or stay) where he thinks he can win the most titles

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