Sports Varejão returns to Cavs to finish season, celebrate career
AP source: Cavaliers consider re-signing Anderson Varejao
CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers have considered re-signing former centre Anderson Varejao for the remainder of the season, a person familiar with the team's thinking told the Associated Press on Friday. Cleveland doesn't currently have a roster spot open and it would take some manoeuvring to bring in the 38-year-old. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the situation remains fluid. The Cavs might have to get an injury exception from the NBA to make room for Varejao. The Athletic was first to report the Cavs' interest. Varejao spent 12 seasons with Cleveland before he was traded to Portland during the 2015-16 season.
CLEVELAND — Anderson Varejão and his healthy head of hair left Cleveland for a while. His heart remained.
“It's home,” he said. “I love the city. I love the fans.”
Varejão, who was traded five years ago by the Cavaliers and missed out on an NBA title with them, signed a 10-day contract with the team on Tuesday to begin an end-of-season stint celebrating his 12-year run in Cleveland.
The 38-year-old centre hasn't played in the NBA since 2017 with Golden State — or in any game since the 2019 World Cup in China.
But he stayed in shape by working out in his garage at home, and the curly-haired Brazilian nicknamed “Wild Thing,” who endeared himself to fans and teammates with his hustle while annoying opponents, will finish this season with the injury-plagued Cavaliers.
Doncic, Mavs cruise past Cavs 110-90 to stay in 5th in West
DALLAS — Luka Doncic scored 24 points in 23 minutes and the Dallas Mavericks kept the prime spot in a tight race to avoid the Western Conference play-in tournament with a breezy 110-90 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 points for the Mavericks, who didn't trail after going ahead 4-2 while the undermanned Cavaliers lost their ninth consecutive game, one short of their longest skid of the season. The teams play again Sunday in Cleveland.
Varejão doesn't know how much he'll play, but that's not what matters.
He's back with the team that gave him his start and eager to help any way he can.
“I’m going to enjoy this moment,” he said on a Zoom call. "Hopefully, I can get out there and do some crazy things like Andy used to do back in the day. But the main thing is just to be back with the guys and kind of help the younger guys, to help them understand that you cannot take anything for granted.
“No matter what’s going on, it could always get worse, you know. So just enjoy the moment, enjoy what’s going on right now and we’ll see. I’m excited. I’m anxious to see how it’s going to be.”
Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said Varejão will not dress for Tuesday night's game against the Phoenix Suns. He laughed when asked if was prepared for the crowd chanting for Varejão to play.
John Tortorella not returning to Blue Jackets next season?
Even though it has been clear for a while that Tortorella likely wasn’t being brought back, there has still been no official announcement from the Blue Jackets. Whenever it comes, there will be plenty of accolades heaped on Tortorella’s time in Columbus. His numbers for the organization dwarf those of Ken Hitchcock, Todd Richards and Dave King, the only three other coaches who have been behind the bench for at least 200 Columbus games. Tortorella’s tenure ends with 447 games coached and a 227-166-54 record. He has been the coach in 31 of the Blue Jackets' 41 postseason appearances.
“We’ll get him in there as soon as we feel comfortable and when it’s best for him,” he said.
Varejão said there was some anxiety when he headed “back to work” at Cleveland Clinic Courts, where he was welcomed by his new teammates.
“But once I got here, it felt like I never left,” he said.
The Cavaliers are crawling to the end of another rough season.
They already are thinking about the draft lottery after being eliminated from the playoffs. They are missing seven players due to injuries.
And while Varejão's signing could be viewed as a publicity stunt, the team sees a benefit in bringing back a proven player who can help some of the youngsters.
“Andy embodies all that the city of Cleveland stands for and beyond, and we couldn’t be more excited to bring his experience, leadership and character back into this locker room,” general manager Koby Altman said. “His infectious work ethic and commitment to our community have earned him his rightful place in the fabric of this organization and all of Northeast Ohio, and have established a genuine admiration that resonates strongly throughout our passionate fan base.
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Varejão was with the Cavaliers from 2004-16 before he was traded to Portland in a three-team deal a few months before Cleveland overcame a 3-1 deficit and beat Golden State in the NBA Finals to end the city's 52-year championship drought.
The next year, Varejão signed as a free agent with Golden State and played against the Cavaliers in the Finals, a sight that pained some in Cleveland.
It hurt Varejão as well, but it didn't change how he felt about his time in Ohio.
“Even though I was on the other side, I was happy for them to get the ring and celebrate because this city deserved it, and the fans deserve it,” he said. "I’m happy for them, the most important thing now is that I’m back with the wine and gold.”
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Tom Withers, The Associated Press
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