Anderson Varejao’s big body has betrayed him again.
Cleveland’s hustling center requires surgery to repair a muscle that split near his right knee, which could cause him to miss 2 more months — a major setback for a young Cleveland Cavaliers team struggling through another unhappy season.
The NBA’s leading rebounder, Varejao was injured Decemebr 18 against Raptors. The injury was initially diagnosed as only a bruised right knee, but as his symptoms persisted, more tests were performed and disclosed a “longitudinal split” between Varejao’s quadriceps and knee.
Varejao had surgery at The Cleveland Clinic, and the team said he will be sidelined at least 6-to-8 weeks. The team related Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo, provided a second opinion on the injury.
“We’re losing one of our best guys on and off the floor. He’s the heart and soul of our basketball team,” Cavs coach Byron Scott asserted. “This is a big-time blow. I’m just trying to keep him in the best of spirits because it’s been 3 straight years of getting some type of injury that’s just derailed him. This is the biggest because he has been playing so well.”
Varejao has missed more than 100 games during the past 3 seasons with heavy injuries. He sat out 51 games in 2011 with a torn ligament in his foot and was sidelined for 41 games last season after breaking his wrist.
One of the NBA’s scrappiest players, Varejao was playing at an All-Star level when he banged his knee last month and went down with what seemed to be a routine injury.
Nevertheless it’s much worse, and the Cavs are again without a crucial piece as they try to rebuild.
“I tried to come back,” Varejao recounted. “I was working each day. We did some more tests and they saw some other stuff that I don’t think it’s bad, but I need surgery just to fix it.”
Varejao, confident he’s going to return this season, doesn’t think the injury got worse during his attempted comeback.
“We do not know how long it may take to heal,” he said. “Rehab and still having pain that is not letting me play. It was getting better but I had a 2nd opinion, talked to the doctors here.”
The Cleveland have gone 3-7 this season without Varejao, Cavs has had more than its share of injuries in the past few seasons. Point guard Kyrie Irving, the reigning rookie of the year, missed 11 games earlier this season with a broken finger and is one of 3 Cavs who have had to wear protective masks for broken facial bones. NFL scores
The Cavaliers were expected to explore trade probabilities for the 6-foot-11 Varejao to acquire more future draft picks. But now that he’s hurt, the team is stuck and has to hope youngsters like Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller improve with more playing time.
Varejao was averaging 14.4 rebounds and was making a strong push to appear in his first All-Star Game. He’s under contract with the Cavaliers for 2 more seasons, with the club holding an option for 2014-15.