David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
For the third season in a row, a significant injury has cost the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Brazilian big man.
In the 2010-11 season, Anderson Varejao played 31 games. In 2011-12, he played 25. This year, he has also played 25. And he won't play his 26th for at least six to eight weeks after the news he will be undergoing knee surgery on Thursday.
Varejao has been out since Dec. 18.
For the past few seasons, Varejao has come up in trade conversations due to his team-friendly contract and his brand of hustle-based play that might make him more suitable as a third/fourth option or the first man off the bench. But the Cavs have been reluctant to move him, citing his importance to the team, loyalty and the fact that Cleveland just plain wasn't being offered enough to pull the trigger. Some writers outright said this year the Cavs would be crazy to trade him.
Some Cavs fans thought differently. They'd seen this movie before. Andy was a ticking timebomb, and it was only a matter of time before the injury bug would strike yet again.
How much is Varejao really worth to Cleveland if he's going to miss close to half the season for the third consecutive year? Varejao's injuries have fallen close to the side of "fluke," and he hasn't had the kind of consistent injuries in one specific area that derailed, say, Brandon Roy or Greg Oden's careers.
With that said, the way Varejao plays invites these kinds of injuries. He falls, constantly. He jumps after balls. He welcomes contact. He dives into the stands or on the floor. Numerous times before this particular injury, Varejao had to come out of the game and head to the locker room with a blow to the head or after coming up limp after taking a hard tumble. And he's 30 now. Maybe the Cavs couldn't have gotten what they perceived as peak value for a guy having a career year, but any of those deals proposed by bloggers, columnists and fans is a heck of a lot more enticing than watching the Cavs start Tyler Zeller, with no backup center, and continue to fall further in the basement while giving up 100-plus points per night.
Whether fans agreed with moving him for picks, young players or a combination of the two, at least if the team had moved him two seasons ago or last year, those players and picks would (we assume) be contributing right now and gaining valuable experience.
Instead, the six-week timeframe puts Andy at returning just before the trade deadline. And that's said to be the best case scenario. Remember, of course, this injury was initially reported as a bone bruise, and Varejao has been day-to-day or a game-time decision for close to a month.
On the floor, Varejao is an incredibly useful and important player. But his value to the Cavs is approximately zero when he's sitting on the bench in a suit. And this is the third straight year he's been there.