Jason Lloyd and Ryan Lewis
INDEPENDENCE: After having his name shopped around to multiple teams leading up to Thursday’s NBA Draft, Anderson Varejao survived as a Cavalier.
Cavs General Manager Chris Grant, in an effort to acquire a second pick in the lottery following the selection of guard Dion Waiters with the No. 4 pick, used Varejao and the No. 24 pick as trade bait, according to two league sources, but couldn’t finalize a deal.
Once it was apparent Varejao would remain, Grant pulled the trigger on a trade to bring North Carolina center Tyler Zeller to Cleveland. The Cavs traded the Nos. 24, 33 and 34 selections to the Dallas Mavericks, who took Zeller at No. 17.
Zeller’s addition could allow coach Byron Scott to return Varejao to the bench. He has been forced to start Varejao at center the past two years because the Cavs lacked other quality options.
Wrist and other injuries have cost Varejao much of the past two seasons (56 games played over that time). Before going down midway through last season, he was averaging 10.1 points per game on 51.4 percent shooting and 11.5 rebounds per game. His shooting percentages were down, but it was Varejao’s best season from a production standpoint.
He was aiming for a return late in the season but was shut down after the Cavs fell so far out of contention. Varejao has returned to the court and is playing with Brazil this summer in preparation for the London Olympics, suggesting the wrist that cost him most of last season is no longer an issue.
Barring a setback in London, it appears Varejao will return to Cleveland for the 2012-13 season.
The Cavs acquired Kelenna Azubuike as part of the deal that brought Zeller to the Cavs.
Azubuike played in 12 games in the past three seasons and reportedly needed two surgeries to fix a torn patellar tendon in his knee in 2009.
Azubuike was a camp invitee with the Cavaliers in 2005, but was cut during training camp.
Tyler Zeller comes from a basketball family. His uncle, Al Eberhard, played for the Detroit Pistons from 1974-78; his brother, Cody, was the 2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year at Indiana and his older brother, Luke, played with the Development League’s Austin Toros last season.
Zeller led the Atlantic Coast Conference in field-goal percentage (.569) and offensive rebounds (4.0) and was second in rebounds (9.7).
Zeller is another athletic big man who is capable of facing the basket and hitting the mid-range jumper.
At North Carolina, Zeller averaged 16.3 points per game as a senior, shot 55.3 percent from the field and was named ACC Player of the Year. He led the ACC in field-goal percentage (56.9 percent) during conference play and like Varejao, has a knack for being in the right place at the right time (4.0 offensive rebounds per game in ACC play to lead the conference). Varejao averaged 4.4 offensive rebounds per game in 2011-12.
The Cavs drafted guard Jared Cunningham 24th, center Bernard James 33rd and forward Jae Crowder 34th on behalf of the Mavericks.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at https://ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.