It’s is a very encouraging sign to see the 33-year-old Cavs big man Anderson Varejao on the court during preseason after rupturing his Achilles tendon last December. The injury had career-ending potential, but it’s ‘healed’ and Varejao is playing again. Although, he isn’t playing like his old self and he still has a long road back.
“I think (Varejao) did a great job rehabilitating,” head coach David Blatt said. “He really worked hard. Andy came to camp and he’s practiced very well. He has honestly shown us a lot more than I think we could have even expected at this point in terms of his activity level, in terms of his mobility, in terms of his play. I am pleasantly surprised how far along Andy is.
“We have tried to limit Andy’s minutes and he’ll play tonight, but I don’t think he will tomorrow just to stay consistent with how we’ve gone about working with Andy up to this point, but he has come a long long way and he’s in good shape.”
Blatt would like to be limiting Varejao’s minutes in any case. The big man is on the wrong side of 30 and should be deeper on the depth chart, however, with all the other injuries and other issues the Cavaliers are dealing with, Blatt needs to get whatever his veteran can give him.
Those that come back from an Achilles injury, like the Clippers Elton Brand who was injured at 28-years-old, can take a couple of years or longer before they really start to regain most of their old form. So, while Varejao can show his court awareness and skill in preseason, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he doesn’t have that expected bounce in his step and he is not playing with his usual reckless abandon. It is a more measured and cautious Varejao running up and down the floor.
Anderson Varejao interview:
“It’s been 10 months (since the injury), but I am kind of surprised as well,” Varejao told Pro Bball Report. “I am trying to take baby steps and go little by little because I know I had a pretty tough injury – just recovering, trying to stay in touch with the medical staff, stay in touch with the coaching staff, telling them how I am feeling so we don’t over do it, but actually I am feeling pretty good.
“You got that right (I’m being cautious). It’s been a long time since I’ve been playing basketball, since December last year. I am just trying to get back into it little by little. I don’t think a lot about my injury, but I don’t go as crazy as I usually do. Just trying to get back into it until I’m 100 percent.
“I asked Chauncey Billups and I asked (Jonas) Jerebko and they basically told me that it is going to take time for you to feel like 100 percent again. Sometimes you are going to be playing, but you are not there yet. It was good to talk to them because this is all new for me. I’ve had other injuries, but this one is by far the toughest one I’ve had.”
It’s a process to come back from an injury this serious and Varejao isn’t as young as he once was. Almost any injury has the potential to end a professional athlete’s career in their thirties, but if everyone is patient and the process isn’t rushed, the early signs are good. Besides, Varejao is having fun again. He wants to be out there and he still has something to give.
“It’s a process,” Varejao confirmed. “I just have to be careful and take baby steps, (but) I am having fun. I am having fun out there. It is good to be back out there with my teammates. Pretty soon it will be 100 percent and everything will go back to normal.”