CLEVELAND — The losses won’t stop for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Scrappy, steady center Anderson Varejao is done for the season with a torn ankle tendon that will require surgery, another major blow to the bottoming-out Cavs, who are not close to recovering after star LeBron James left as a free agent last summer.
“It’s a big blow,” first-year coach Byron Scott said in Phoenix before the Cavs played the Suns. “Arguably, he’s been our best player.”
Varejao got hurt while running in practice Thursday as the Cavs prepared for a five-game road trip. He was placed in a walking boot and traveled with the team. He missed Friday’s game against Golden State as team doctors waited for his injury to “calm down.”
On Sunday, he underwent a second MRI in Phoenix that revealed “a complete tear of the peroneus longus in the midfoot of the right ankle and foot.”
Varejao’s injury will likely require surgery. After a stop in Los Angeles to see family, he will return to Cleveland for further treatment and evaluation.
Scott said Varejao was injured when he was running up and down the court during a simple drill.
“He was just running,” Scott said. “Then he planted, touched the line and ran to the other end. And then he just buckled.
“I feel terrible because of the way he’s been playing.”
It’s more devastating news for the Cavs, who have lost 10 straight and 20 of 21 after a xx-xx loss to the Suns on Sunday night. Varejao, averaging a team-best 9.7 rebounds and 9.1 points, is also the team’s best interior defender and provides constant energy with his hustle.
Scott has tried to stay optimistic amid the Cavs’ mounting losses and injuries. The team is also without guard Daniel “Boobie” Gibson (ankle) and forward Leon Powe (knee surgery) on the trip and forwards Anthony Parker (back) and Joey Graham (leg) have been slowed by injuries.
At 8-28, the Cavs have the worst record in the Eastern Conference. With James, they had the league’s best regular-season record the past two years.