ATLANTA -- What does Anderson Varejao bring to the Golden State Warriors? First, we have to operate under the assumption that he still has something left. There's a good chance he doesn't, in which case the answer would simply be "nothing."
But if Varejao, who said Sunday he agreed to join the Warriors for the veterans minimum after being bought out by the Trail Blazers, looks anything like his earlier Cleveland incarnations, he fits a role in Golden State. Theoretically, the Warriors were the team that had everything, a team that didn't need a disruption. That all changed after Festus Ezeli injured his left knee against the San Antonio Spurs on Jan. 25 and Andrew Bogut experienced Achilles soreness after Friday's loss in Portland.
Now, the Warriors need a center. One of the reasons Golden State cut Jason Thompson to make room for Varejao's arrival was Thompson's status as a 4-man. Also, perhaps more importantly, Thompson struggled to grasp Golden State's offense and defense. That's understandable considering how so much of what happens on the Warriors is improvised, but within an overarching structure. It's hard to play for this particular team if you lack an advanced feel for the game.
The Warriors believe Varejao, 33, has that feel. On the matter of how to incorporate a newcomer into a team whose offense borders on telepathy, Kerr said, "We do think he's the kind of guy who'll pick things up quickly."
Kerr also believes that what the Warriors do meshes with Varejao's approach.
"Fortunately, he's a guy who has a natural instinct for the game," Kerr said. "We play a lot of freestyle offense anyway, hit the big guy and start running our cuts. That's what he's best at."
So the idea seems to be that Varejao, who has yet to join his new team pending a physical, could operate in something of a Bogut-type role: get the ball up top, wait for dribble handoffs and Golden State's array of cuts. The Warriors are hoping to salvage Varejao from the NBA's scrap heap by making him a hub.
Still, the learning curve will be steep for the Brazilian big man, a project for the Warriors down the stretch.
"He's going to have to learn the sets that we do run, and we'll put him through a practice [Tuesday] and give him a video playbook and help him along," Kerr said. "Coaches will get with him and help him through stuff."
It remains to be seen how fluent Varejao will be in Golden State's offense, but he already has a different kind of linguistic advantage: He's joining fellow Brazilian Leandro Barbosa, a friend he has known since they were both 14 years old.
Barbosa, whose English is often teased by teammates, is joyful at the prospect of welcoming a friend and fellow Portuguese speaker. He looks forward to making jokes that fly over the heads of his teammates.
"We gone' be speaking Portuguese on the court," Barbosa said, with a smile. "So no one will know what we talking about. So I can talk A LOT of things, you know?"