Cleveland Cavaliers: Is Anderson Varejao’s Injury More Serious than Reported?

Updated: February 24, 2014

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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  1. Bob Evans

    February 25, 2014 at 12:31 am


    Who is Dave? Haha…I wrote the article. But glad you liked the article.


    • MJM

      February 26, 2014 at 12:57 am

      In the Fringe Universe, your first name is Dave, not Bob. It is easy to get it mixed up.

      Sorry about that.


  2. MJM

    February 24, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Dave, great article.

    Varajeo is, without doubt, the most popular player on this team. And has been since LBJ.

    Sadly, though I have to agree with your suspicions regarding the extent of his injury. And the fact that it is probably time to let him go. Use the money for another player.

    And I think that Brown needs to go with him. We had our debates when Brown was hired. I was truly hoping that my perceptions regarding his ineffectual coaching techniques, his inability to reach the players, and his junior high offensive schemes and plays were way off base.

    But this Brown coached team has not made even the smallest of gains that one would expect with even this s l o w l y maturing group of players. Coupled now with Varajeo’s injury and we are looking to again make the lottery playoffs while a gazillion other teams in the NBA fight for the chance to get slaughtered by one of the few truly elite teams.

    I fear this mess which Gilbert created by agreeing to the re-hiring of Brown, the sudden termination of Grant, and the utter failure of many of the players acquired by trades or free agency, will ultimately, if it has not already, create an environment where the Cavs be be unable to attract the elite free agents or keep their own.

    When does the next tear down and rebild begin?


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