In a season that does not need more bad news, the Cleveland Cavaliers have just received some. This sounds incredibly like the first sentence of an article I wrote last year, as a struggling, young, Cavaliers team learned that they would be without the services of veteran center Anderson Varejao for the most of the rest of the year.
It has happened again today, as it was announced that the Brazilian would need surgery to repair a torn leg muscle, and should be out six to eight weeks. He will have the procedure Tuesday.
Varejao was initially hurt on December 18, in a game against the Toronto Raptors. The original diagnosis was that it was only a bruised right knee, but, after continued pain, further tests have revealed a "longitudinal split" between his quadriceps and knee, along with herniating tissue underneath the muscle.
Varejao, the NBA's rebounding leader, is a crucial member of this team. One of the keys to this season was that this team needed to stay healthy and Varejao, along with Kyrie Irving, was the main man. Not only does he bring energy, hustle, and toughness along with his skill, he is also unquestionably this team's leader. Without him last season, a team that was looking at a possible playoff birth in the Eastern Conference fell apart and ended up with one of the league's worst records.
Last year, injury caused him to miss 51 games and the year before that he missed 41 after breaking his wrist. While he has been in all sorts of trade deadline rumors, both this year and in previous seasons, injury is not something that can help the Cavaliers. If he is traded, though many fans will be angry, at least something of some value is received. With his injury, Cleveland must just play on without him.
While this is not good for this season, it may be a bright spot for the future. Last year's injury to Varejao allowed more playing time-and starts-for Tristan Thompson. While Thompson has not played to the level of the Wild Thing, the experience he got playing regular minutes last season has definitely helped his game. While he is now a regular in the starting lineup, this could help rookie Tyler Zeller, who has been starting in Varejao's place. While he has not been as productive as hoped, he will continue to learn while forced to start for the Cavaliers.
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