Editor’s note: Wednesday night’s game between the Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves was not completed in time for this edition. For the result, please visit www.ohio.com.
MINNEAPOLIS: Anderson Varejao’s time as a bench player was brief, but his stay in the starting lineup will be temporary as well.
As Mike Brown continues to juggle rotations and starters looking for the right fit, Varejao seems to be the piece who will continue to swing in and out of the starting lineup — at least until Andrew Bynum is able to play in games on back-to-back nights. That doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon.
While Bynum is away dealing with a family medical matter, Varejao was back in the starting lineup Wednesday when the Cavs played at the Minnesota Timberwolves. He will stay there at least through Friday’s home game against the Charlotte Bobcats, then Bynum is expected back in time for Saturday’s game at the Washington Wizards.
Varejao has been a starter the past three years and was playing at an All-Star level last season prior to his quadriceps injury. Other players in that position who get shoved to a bench role may sulk, but Varejao is trying not to let it bother him.
“To me the most important thing is playing and being important and helping the team,” he said. “To me it’s not who starts, it’s who closes the game. It really doesn’t matter to me. It feels good when people talk about you as the starter, but there’s no difference.”
Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, Varejao is almost assured of being on the floor at the end of every game. The way Bynum’s minutes are structured, he won’t be on the floor at all in the second and fourth quarters until his minutes are extended significantly. That leaves plenty of time for Varejao, who has struggled early to reach the level he was playing at last season. Varejao was averaging better than 14 points and 14 rebounds last season, even leading the league in rebounding, when he was injured. He is averaging 8.9 points and 6.9 rebounds this season.
Brown never really discussed the move with Varejao until it happened on Monday. Until then, all Varejao knew was that Brown said over the summer his goal was to get Bynum into the starting lineup.
“Andy’s meant a lot to this organization, whether it’s coming off the bench or starting,” Brown said. “With his size and the way his feet are, he can guard all types of players. He can guard power forwards, even the smaller, quicker, shooting power forwards and he can guard the bigger centers. His versatility really helps in situations like this.”
The trickle-down effect of the Bynum/Varejao rotation is Tyler Zeller, whose time on the floor has varied from not getting off the bench to a season-high 18 minutes against the Indiana Pacers.
Zeller missed essentially all of the preseason with a strained hip and then an appendectomy. The time spent healing and away from the court, coupled with Bynum’s slow return, has Zeller unsure when (or if) he’ll play on any given night.
“It’s tough, but it’s kind of the situation I’m in because of everything that happened [with the appendectomy],” Zeller said. “I have to take it for what it is and try to make the best of it.”
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.