Forward/center Anderson Varejao was moved to the inactive list just prior to the Wednesday night road game due to soreness in his right knee, and forward/center Tyler Zeller was sent back to Cleveland during the day on Wednesday due to head injuries.
Varejao’s injury is related to a right knee contusion he suffered in the first quarter of the Cavs’ game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
Zeller, meanwhile, suffered a “non-displaced fracture of his left orbital bone” (which apparently means a broken cheek bone) and a concussion in the fourth quarter of the same game, according to information posted on the Cavs’ website.
The team is not estimating how long either player will be out.
The loss of Varejao for even one game is huge. The big man from Brazil is averaging 14 points and 15 rebounds a game for the Cavs. In addition, he is playing his usual solid defense while also helping out on offense with his passing. He has carried the Cavs at times in the first four games of the season and has played at an All-Star level.
Varejao was hurt for the majority of the last two seasons, and Cavs management may just be being extra cautions with the 6’11 veteran. The Wine and Gold need Varejao to stay healthy this year if the team is going to have success.
Zeller’s absence will also be noticeable, and not just because the rookie is seven feet tall and tips the scales at 250 lbs.
In four games this season, Zeller is averaging 10.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. He is third on the team in rebounding and is fifth in scoring.
The first round draft pick is not starting, but is playing 18.5 minutes per game.
And while it’s only been four games so far, Zeller has looked like a solid player. He is passing and cutting as a part of the Cavs offense, and he is playing pretty good defense. He still has a lot to improve on obviously, but he’s off to a good start, except for the whole broken cheek bone/concussion thing.
The absence of Zeller and Varejao will hurt the Cavs, but it will also give other players more playing time and the opportunity to respond. It will be interesting to see how Head Coach Byron Scott manages the minutes now, and who steps up in the post for the Cavs.