INDEPENDENCE: For the first time since Anderson Varejao injured his knee last month, Cavs coach Byron Scott made reference to the rest of the season. He said he was still optimistic Varejao will return at some point, but just the mention of the final three months was jarring given the initial diagnosis of a day-to-day injury with a bruised knee.
Varejao missed practice again on Tuesday and has been ruled out for tonight’s home game against the Atlanta Hawks. It will be the 11th consecutive game he has missed, and Scott made it clear he has no idea when to expect the league’s leading rebounder to return to the floor.
He sounded more ominous in discussing Varejao’s outlook than he has previously. Scott said to forget about basketball, he just hopes Varejao is OK. He also said Varejao is down since this is the third consecutive season he has missed significant time with an injury. Varejao said at the start of training camp his goal was to make it through the season healthy.
Told he sounded more ominous than usual, Scott said that wasn’t his intent.
“I’m still trying to be very optimistic that he’ll be able to play, I just don’t know when,” Scott said. “I hope I’m not talking like it’s 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.”
Varejao was injured Dec. 18 against the Toronto Raptors. The Cavs are 3-7 without him, but sure could’ve used him Monday when Joakim Noah and the Chicago Bulls dismantled the Cavs in a 28-point Bulls win.
“The one thing I have to do, and you hate to do it at times because of how much he means to the team, you have to carry on and coach the guys we have here,” Scott said. “I miss him every day.”
Varejao is averaging 14.1 points and 14.4 rebounds when he can get on the floor. Scott agreed for the first time Tuesday that given how long he has missed, one would have to assume it’s something more serious than a bruised knee.
“But I’m not a doctor. I’m not going to speculate or even try to guess what it is,” Scott said. “I’m just hoping that he gets healthy and that he can play. But right now my thoughts are with Andy. … Forget basketball, I’m hoping he’s OK. That’s the biggest thing.”
Kyrie Irving said he was hoping to see Varejao at practice on Tuesday.
“For the second season in a row, I don’t have the big man I started with,” he said. “He’s definitely been beneficial this season for Tristan [Thompson] and Tyler [Zeller] growing. When he’s not out there, we lose a little bit of leadership and most importantly effort. We got 14 and 14 every single night form him and we’re missing that right now.”
C.J. Miles also missed practice Tuesday with back spasms suffered in Monday’s loss. He is questionable for tonight’s game. Daniel Gibson participated in his first full practice since being diagnosed with a concussion. He still has not been cleared medically to return to a game, but that could happen on Wednesday.
Akron-based Longbridge Wealth Advisors is donating $50 to Akron Children’s Hospital for every assist the Canton Charge make in home games throughout this season. The Charge are the Development League affiliate of the Cavaliers. The proceeds are estimated to reach $10,000 this season.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.