By Ben Golliver
The Cavaliers announced Monday that center Andersen Varejao will miss the remainder of the season after developing a blood clot in his right leg. Varejao underwent surgery to repair a "small logitudinal split in the vastus medialis" in a muscle in his right leg less than two weeks ago. He was expected to miss six-to-eight weeks at that time.
"Clearly our players' health is our top concern and we are disappointed for Anderson, and his family," Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant said in a statement. "We know what a competitor he is and how much he wants to be on the court helping his teammates. In the meantime, he has our full support and we look forward to welcoming him back as he recovers."
Varejao has been hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic, where he is being treated with blood thinners. The Cavaliers said Varejao will remain hospitalized for "several days" and that his blood medication regimen will continue for "approximately three months."
The rebuilding Cavaliers are a Central Division-worst 10-32, a lock to make the lottery with or without Varejao, their leading big man. With Varejao, Cleveland went 5-20. Without him, Cleveland is 5-12.
Second-year forward Tristan Thompson, a 2011 lottery pick, has seen his role increased in Varejao's absence and is averaging 14.1 points and 11.9 rebounds in January. Reserve forward Luke Walton has also found himself with a regular spot in coach Byron Scott's rotation. The loss of Varejao is unlikely to affect Cleveland's plans, as Grant looks to enter next summer with maximum cap flexibility and is surely realistic about his team's nonexistent prospects this season.
Varejao, 30, has played just 81 combined games over the last three seasons for the Cavaliers. His 2011-12 season ended early when he fractured his wrist and his 2010-11 season was lost after he underwent season-ending surgery on his leg. The Brazilian big man was in the discussion for the first All-Star recognition of his career this year, averaging career highs of 14.1 points, 14.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 steals. He was also bandied about in trade rumors, with a number of contenders linked to interest in his defense, rebounding and energy. Varejao is on the books for $8.4 million this season and is under contract through the 2014-15 season.