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Cleveland Cavaliers: Is Anderson Varejao’s Injury More Serious than Reported?
As the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped their second straight game in a home loss to the Washington Wizards on Sunday, it is becoming clearer the team badly misses Dion Waiters, C.J. Miles and Anderson Varejao. With all three out with various injuries, the Cavaliers’ depleted bench has been beat up by opposing benches the last two games.
While we all know what is wrong with Waiters and Miles, there has been very little indication in regard to the severity of Varejao’s injury. After going down with a “sore back” following a 43-minute performance two weeks ago against Memphis, it was thought the big man was just getting a night or two off to rest.
Instead, one night off has turned into two weeks off—with no sign of return in sight for the 6’11” and 267-pound big man. As he missed his sixth consecutive game against the Wizards on Sunday evening, recent moves by the front office paint a much different picture than a “sore back” for their long-time power forward/center.
On the day of the NBA Trade Deadline, instead of going out and getting a shooter to pair with Waiters and Kyrie Irving, the team made a deal to acquire a starting caliber center from Philadelphia, Spencer Hawes. Following the trade, the Cavaliers signed big man Arinze Onuaku from the D-League to a 10-day contract. Onuaku fills the roster spot left empty by trading Earl Clark and Henry Sims for Hawes, but the addition of a big man instead of wing player says things may be worse than we thought.
Maybe this is overthinking the whole situation, but guys don’t miss six games due to a “sore back” in the middle of a winning streak. With Varejao’s high energy and competitive nature, a sore back wouldn’t keep him out of games like these with a potential playoff spot on the line.
So why is the front office downplaying the injury if it is more severe than noted?
Varejao’s injury history would be the main reason. Despite being a fan favorite, he hasn’t played close to a full season since 2009-2010, and has played more than 60 games in a season just three times since being drafted in 2004. Since the 2010-2011 season, aka post LeBron James era, Varejao has played in 129 games spread over four seasons.
While Varejao is certainly a mainstay in the hearts of Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans, his continued injury history is becoming a major issue for this franchise. You simply cannot justify paying a guy $9.1 million a year to miss half the games—no matter how much you like his heart and intensity.
So while the rest of us wonder just how severe the injury to Varejao really is, you better believe interim general manager David Griffin is taking a look at how many games the big man has missed during his time with the Cavaliers. Because with a $9.8 million team option waiting in the wings after the season, it may be time for the Cavaliers to cut ties—either via offseason trade or by declining the option—with the man fans have come to call “Wild Thing”.
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