CLEVELAND — There’s no chance Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao is going to get voted into the NBA All-Star Game in fan balloting.
Cleveland coach Byron Scott, however, is campaigning for the eighth-year pro to be added to the team when Eastern Conference coaches vote for the seven reserves.
“Obviously, (Orlando’s) Dwight Howard is going to be the No. 1 center in the East,” Scott said Friday before a game against the New Jersey Nets at Quicken Loans Arena. “Other than that, I don’t know who’s playing better at that position.”
In the second return of fan balloting released Jan. 19, Howard was the runaway leader at center for the East with 1.61 million votes. Chicago’s Joakim Noah was a distant second at 141,683, while Varejao wasn’t in the top six.
Varejao has a chance of being added to the team as a reserve, but not a good one, as East coaches may bend the rules and pick a power forward as the backup center. If a true center is chosen, it could be Noah or Indiana’s Roy Hibbert.
Varejao entered Friday averaging 9.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.76 blocks for the 7-10 Cavs. Noah, whose Chicago team had the second-best record in the league at 16-4, was at 7.8, 8.7, 1.8 and 1.11 in those four categories. Hibbert, whose Pacers were 12-5, was at 14.4, 9.9, 2.0 and 1.7.
“Most of the guys on the All-Star team are doing great, but their team is also doing real well,” Scott said. “Right now, I really don’t see anybody who’s playing better (than Varejao).”
Since the talent level at center is thin, East coaches could tab a power forward like Miami’s Chris Bosh as the backup center. The East’s starting forwards are currently the Heat’s LeBron James and the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, so there’s plenty of talent at that position, as well as at guard.
“It’s very difficult,” Scott said of making the All-Star team for the first time. “First, you get the recognition: ‘He had a great year; he’s doing great. Let’s see how he does next year.’
“Obviously, that’s the first step — being recognized for his body of work. Guys are starting to notice, but that might not get you on the team. Next year, let’s see if he does the same thing or better. It’s very difficult.”
Rookie power forward Tristan Thompson, who was back in uniform after missing two games with a sprained left ankle, began the night with two assists in 275 minutes.
“He’s more a hole than a hub,” Scott said. “He’s going to have to understand what the hub means.”
Scott’s point is that when Thompson gets the ball in the post, he has to recognize what the defense is doing before starting to make his move. If the defense is ready to help, the 20-year-old has to kick the ball back out and re-post.
“I told him the other day, ‘You’ve got those blinders that the horse wears in New York. Your peripheral vision is not the best,’” Scott said with a smile. “I want to make him aware of where guys are.”
Not a demotion
Scott said the Cavs sent forward Luke Harangody to the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League simply to get the 24-year-old some playing time. Harangody appeared in five games for the Cavs, averaging 2.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in 7.6 minutes a night.
“We’ve got enough bigs right now,” Scott said. “I just thought it would be good for Luke to go down there. I want him to play.”
Off the wall
Cavs starting shooting guard Anthony Parker attempted four free throws Wednesday against New York, matching his season total coming into that game.
Backup center Ryan Hollins entered Friday having not missed a shot from the field since Jan. 4. He was 5-for-5 over four games in that span. Prior to that, Hollins was 2-for-10 over three games.
Hollins has taken over for Semih Erden as Cleveland’s backup center and played well offensively, but entered Friday with no rebounds while playing 23 minutes over the previous two games.
“With that athleticism, that’s shocking, to say the least,” Scott said.
Nets power forward Kris Humphries, who has been battling an illness, was in uniform.
“He’s really had a tough 24 hours,” New Jersey coach Avery Johnson said. “He needs to stop trying some of those different foods he likes to try. Keep it simple, especially on the road.”
Scott called the uniforms the Memphis Grizzlies wore on Thursday, throwbacks to the days of the ABA’s Memphis Tams, the ugliest he’s seen. They consisted of bright green shorts and bright yellow jerseys.
“I thought it was Mardi Gras,” Scott said.
The nickname Tams, incidentally, was a combination of Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, the states from which the team was trying to draw fans.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.