By RICK NOLAND
INDEPENDENCE â€” While LeBron James is openly campaigning for the Cavaliers to trade for disgruntled New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd, Cleveland will have to make do without backup power forward Anderson Varejao for the next three to four weeks.
Varejao was evaluated by team physician Dr. Richard Parker late Tuesday at Cleveland Clinic Courts, with the Cavaliers announcing on Wednesday that the Brazilian has a left ankle sprain with bone bruises.
Varejao, who suffered the injury in the third quarter Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers, could be out as long as a month, which means he would miss approximately 15 games.
Varejao will remain in Cleveland to continue his rehabilitation process while the Cavaliers attempt to make do with Donyell Marshall, Dwayne Jones and Cedric Simmons backing up big men Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden.
Meanwhile, general manager Danny Ferry will continue to explore trade options prior to the Feb. 21 deadline.
James, who became good friends with Kidd while playing for USA Basketball over the summer, has made it known he would love to play with the veteran point guard, but acquiring Kidd is a long shot at best.
The Cavaliers could put together some type of package deal involving Larry Hughes, Daniel Gibson and Gooden, but that would leave them dangerously thin on the front line unless they also get a big man in return. Cleveland canâ€™t trade Varejao prior to the deadline because it has not been 90 days since he signed his contract.
The crumbling Nets are also talking to Dallas, Denver and the Lakers. Most of those teams not only have more to offer, but they also play in the Western Conference, meaning New Jersey would not be running the risk of improving a team in its own conference.
In all likelihood, Ferry realizes this, but is still doing his job by at least exploring possibilities with New Jersey. If nothing else, that effort should make James and Cleveland fans happy.
Other point guards that might interest the Cavaliers include Sacramentoâ€™s Mike Bibby, Philadelphiaâ€™s Andre Miller and Seattleâ€™s Earl Watson and Delonte West.
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ALL-STAR HONOREE: Gibson was named to the sophomore team for the 2008 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge, to be held Feb. 15 as part of All-Star Weekend in New Orleans.Â Prior to Wednesday, Gibson had played in 41 games (26 starts) this season andÂ was averaging 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He ranked fifth in the NBA in 3-point percentage (.468) and was tied for 10th in 3-pointers made (95). â€œI never really think too much about individual achievements, but to work so hard in the summer to improve and then to be given this opportunity to play on the sophomore team is very rewarding,â€ Gibson said. â€œI am very grateful.â€
Noland may be reached at email@example.com or 330-721-4061.