INDEPENDENCE: Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao was inching his way toward All-Star consideration last season, but not anymore. Not after the NBA did away with the position this week on All-Star ballots.
Beginning this season, there are just two categories — guards and frontcourt players. That should strengthen the All-Star game, given the dearth of legitimate centers in the league, but it cripples the chances of a guy like Varejao ever making an All-Star team.
“There are so few centers in the league, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said. “Go back to the ’80s when I played, there was a true center on every team. Now you have to search for them.”
Varejao didn’t offer an opinion Thursday on the rule change. In truth, his time at center is likely to be limited this season. He’ll still most likely open the season as the team’s starter there, but Tyler Zeller’s strong finish to training camp gives the Cavs optimism he’ll soon be ready to take over the role.
In fact, Scott hasn’t ruled out starting Zeller at center and shifting Varejao to his more natural power forward position.
Varejao looked rusty in his return to forward in the Cavs’ preseason finale. He quickly fell into foul trouble and finished the night scoreless.
“You have to run around a bit more [at forward],” Varejao said. “Playing center, you have to be more physical against the big guys.”
The list of legitimate centers in the East is fairly brief, beginning with Andrew Bynum and including Roy Hibbert. Zeller makes the list, too, although no one will pay close attention to him this season since he is a rookie.
Scott doesn’t really know why the center position has gone obsolete, but believes it’s probably just the evolution of the game.
“The 7-footers in our day were centers, now you got guys who are playing power forward and you almost have one who is close to 7 feet who is a ‘3’ [Kevin Durant]. Things change. It’s just a different style of play and a different game.”
D’Aundray Brown signed
The Cavaliers signed former Cleveland State guard D’Aundray Brown on Thursday. He isn’t expected to make the final roster, but by signing him now, the Cavs increase their chances of getting him onto their Development League team in Canton.
Under NBA rules, teams can protect up to three players from their camp roster for their D-League team. They are still considered NBA free agents, but the Cavs will own the D-League rights to up to three players they waive in this camp — provided those cuts are made by Saturday.
Brown, 24, has been at the Cavs facility often in recent months. Scott likes the way Brown, a 6-foot-4 guard, defends and makes shots.
“We love the way he plays,” Scott said. “He plays hard, good defensive player. Just a kid we’ve been interested in. We really kind of like him.”
Kyrie Irving out
Kyrie Irving is out indefinitely after having all four wisdom teeth removed Wednesday. The team isn’t giving a timetable for his return, but he should be ready for Tuesday’s season opener.
“He’s doing pretty good right now,” Scott said. “I thought he’d be hurting a little more than what he’s leading on. Right now, he’s home resting.”
Gibson, Harangody return
Daniel Gibson was cleared to return to practice Thursday after being placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol process on Monday.
Luke Harangody was a partial participant with a right knee sprain.
Cavs players, coaches and front office executives participated in the annual Big Shots & Little Stars fundraiser Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena. The event was expected to raise more than $600,000 for children battling cancer.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.