Already in the midst of being out six to eight weeks after Jan. 10 surgery to repair a split in one of his quadriceps muscles, the 6-foot-11, 260-pound center will now miss the rest of the season after developing a blood clot in his lung.
“I think the world of Andy, the way he plays and how he comes to practice every day, his spirit about this game we do for a living,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said Monday following practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “My heart just goes out to him.”
Varejao, who has been out since banging his knee Dec. 18 vs. Toronto, was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic with the blood clot Thursday. He is being treated with blood thinners and will remain hospitalized for several more days, but is expected to make a full recovery.
“Our hearts go out to him and his family,” Cavs general manager Chris Grant said. “He’s the epitome of what we want out of our guys.
“He’s had a tough go from an injury standpoint, but we’re going to continue to support him and help him to the best of our abilities. Things haven’t changed from our end.”
Grant said Varejao will be treated with blood thinners for three months, and it is the medication that will prevent the 30-year-old from playing. The GM added the Cavs are fairly confident the blood clot did not develop as a result of Varejao’s knee surgery.
“His spirits are up,” said Grant, who visited Varejao in the hospital and said the Brazilian would remain in Cleveland for the rest of the season. “He’s frustrated. Obviously, he wants to play and be with his teammates out on the court, but he’s such a good guy. Every time you see him, he still has that big smile.”
This is the third straight season Varejao has missed substantial action due to injury. He suffered a tendon injury in his ankle two years ago and appeared in just 31 out of 82 games. Last season he suffered a fractured wrist and played in 25 out of a possible 66 games.
Repeatedly the subject of trade rumors, Varejao has played in just 81 games over the last three seasons.
“Losing him already is bad enough for us,” Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving said. “The news got worse today. We wish him the best. We’re all going to be there for him.”
Varejao, a ninth-year pro who is under contract to the Cavs for two more seasons (the last is a club option), was averaging career highs of 14.1 points, 14.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
The Cavs, who are 10-32 overall as they prepare to host Boston tonight at Quicken Loans Arena, were 5-20 with Varejao in the lineup, but Irving missed 11 of those games due to injury.
“We’re not happy with what our record is,” Grant said. “You always want to win more games. We’re a competitive group.”
The GM, who said the Cavs would look into signing a big man but didn’t commit to it, quickly added he was pleased with the individual strides made by many of the team’s young players.
That includes 7-foot rookie center Tyler Zeller, who is averaging 10.3 points and 7.4 rebounds in 16 games starting in place of Varejao.
Zeller, who is shooting .391 from the field and .824 at the line in 34.4 minutes a game as a starter, is coming off a career-high 14 rebounds Saturday in Utah.
“Going against all these front-tier guys, at times it might not look as good, he might not fare as well, but in the long run, this is valuable experience for him,” Scott said. “He’s going to get so much better, a lot faster, having to go through this.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.