Where is Anderson Varejao? That’s what everyone wants to know. Wednesday night, Varejao will miss his 11th game in a row with a knee contusion. The contusion, or bruise, was suffered on December 18th against the Toronto Raptors. After expressing pain and coming out for a few minutes, the Brazilian big man returned to the game and finished it out, with 22 points and 10 rebounds. The injury seemed minor, moderate at most. Varejao was slated to miss a couple of games after the injury, and then return to action. Obviously, that has not been the case. Is there any possible explanation for his prolonged absence? Let’s cover the possibilities.
1. The knee injury is significantly worse than we realized.
This seems unlikely. First of all, the Cavs, thank God, are not a team with a history of mistreating injury situations. We all know the issues the Knicks have had with covering up STAT’s various knee injuries, but this doesn’t seem to be a similar type of thing. If the injury were serious at all, it’s hard to imagine that Andy would have returned to the Raptors game. Also, what would the Cavs have to gain from covering up an injury? Any trade involving Varejao would require his passing a physical and medical exam, so it’s not like a cover-up would land us Kevin Love, or anything. It’s possible that the injury is significant, but undefined yet. But given the general acuity of NBA trainers, and the fact that it doesn’t take three weeks to get MRI results back, this can’t really be the case. Even if ESPN thinks so. The missed time must be stemming from something other than the injury itself.
2. There are serious, ongoing trade talks underway, and his absence is a trade condition.
This may be the only explanation that makes any sense at all. A request for a trade target to be held out of games until the completion of a trade is fairly common, and is especially understandable for a player with Varejao’s injury history. It also fits with the other news coming out of Cleveland recently. Samardo Samuels was cut. Roster spots, anyone? Luke Walton didn’t attend Monday night’s game for “personal reasons.” Could he have been making travel arrangements to Minnesota? The only hole in this theory is that eleven games seems like an unusual amount of time for a “Don’t play Wild Thing, we don’t want him getting hurt” stipulation. For the Cavs to listen to such a request, they must have been near agreement with another team. But why would a trade that close to happening take three more weeks to complete? There must have been a serious last-second snag in negotiations to cause such a delay. All in all, this is really the only possible reason for the missed time.
We may have seen the last of Anderson Varejao in a Cavs uniform. I’ve advocated for an Andy trade all year, as I still do. Regardless, it’s tragic to think that the last we ever saw of Wild Thing was a deflating loss to a hot Alan Anderson and the Toronto Raptors.
Byron Scott’s quotes on the situation are infuriating:
“I hope I’m not talking like its long-term or for the season. I’m still optimistic he’ll be able to play this year until the doctors tell me something different.”
“I’m not a doctor and I’m not going to speculate on what it is.”