July 25, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Varejao sits out game

Rick Noland

The Gazette

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers took the better-safe-than-sorry approach with Anderson Varejao on Friday.

Varejao missed his second straight game with a bruised right knee when the Cavs hosted the Indiana Pacers at Quicken Loans Arena and is also unlikely to play tonight when Cleveland visits Milwaukee.

“Andy doesn’t want to miss games,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said before the Pacers game. “That’s the one thing about him right now: He wants to be out there with his teammates.”

The decision not to play Varejao, who also sat out Wednesday in Boston after bruising his knee late in the first quarter Tuesday against Toronto, was Scott’s. When talking to the media prior to the Indiana game, the coach also seemed to be leaning toward sitting his starting center tonight.

“I don’t want to put him out there at risk,” Scott said. “It’s just two games. The one thing I don’t want is him out there trying to play at 75 percent.”

The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Varejao, who missed 41 out of 66 games last season and 51 out of 82 in 2010-11, also sat out a game on Nov. 7 of this season with a sore right knee.

“I’m looking out for Andy,” Scott said. “I know how hard he plays. He’s going to get nicked up during the course of the season.”

Varejao is averaging 14.1 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists. All are career highs for the ninth-year pro and the rebounding average leads the NBA.

Though he’s one of Cleveland’s best and most valuable players, Varejao has been the subject of trade rumors for several years. He likely will be again as the February trade deadline approaches, but the Cavs won’t even receive offers if he has a serious injury.

“Because of the way he plays, his style, he’s going to have bumps and bruises,” Scott said. “There’s no doubt about that. You just hope he stays away from the serious injuries.”

Big Z

With Varejao out, Tyler Zeller made his second straight start. In his first start Wednesday, the rookie had a career-high 20 points but just three rebounds in a 103-91 loss in Boston, but Scott was impressed.

“To respond the way he responded, I thought was great,” the coach said. “He played a physical brand of basketball. He was aggressive on both ends of the floor. I thought he really matured a little bit.”

Welcome back

The Cavs recalled big man Jon Leuer from Canton of the NBA Development League on Thursday. Like every young Cavs big man before him who has been sent down and put up big numbers, Leuer averaged 20.3 points on .545 shooting and 12.3 rebounds in six starts with the Charge. He averaged 3.2 points and 2.0 rebounds in five appearances with the Cavs before being demoted.

“Like I told him before we started the season, ‘I can’t have more confidence in you than you have in yourself,’” Scott said. “One thing we wanted him to do down there is gain that confidence back.”


The Cavs are slated to practice on the morning of Christmas Eve and Christmas.

l Donald Sloan joined Varejao on the Cavs’ in active list vs. the Pacers.

l Cleveland entered Friday having lost five straight, 10-of-11, 14-of-16 and 20-of-23.

l The Pacers were still without small forward Danny Granger (sore left knee).

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.