Anderson Varejao’s big body has betrayed him again.
Cleveland’s hustling center needs surgery to repair a muscle that split near his right knee, which could cause him to miss two more months — a major setback for a young Cavaliers team struggling through another miserable season.
The NBA’s leading rebounder, Varejao was injured Dec. 18 against Toronto. The injury was initially diagnosed as only a bruised right knee, but as his symptoms persisted, more tests were performed and revealed a “longitudinal split” between Varejao’s quadriceps and knee.
Varejao will have surgery today at The Cleveland Clinic, and the team said he will be sidelined a minimum of six to eight weeks. The team said Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo., provided a second opinion on the injury.
“We’re losing one of our best guys on and off the floor. He’s the heart and soul of our basketball team,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said. “This is a big-time blow.
“I’m just trying to keep him in the best of spirits because it’s been three straight years of getting some type of injury that’s just derailed him. This is the biggest because he has been playing so well.”
Varejao has missed more than 100 games in the past three seasons with significant injuries. He sat out 51 games in 2011 with a torn ligament in his foot and was sidelined for 41 games last season after breaking his wrist.
“Three years ... it’s unbelievable,” a frustrated Varejao said before Wednesday night’s game against Atlanta. “It’s like, ‘Why again? Why me?’ It’s something I don’t have control of. All I can do is keep working. Right now focus on my rehab to get better as soon as possible.”
One of the NBA’s scrappiest players, Varejao was playing at an All-Star level when he banged his knee last month and went down with what appeared to be a routine injury.
However, it’s much worse and the Cavs are again without an important piece as they try to rebuild.
“I tried to come back,” Varejao said. “I was working every day. We did some more tests and they saw some other stuff that I don’t think it’s bad, but I need surgery just to fix it.”
Varejao, who is confident he will return this season, doesn’t think the injury got worse during his attempted comeback.
“We don’t know how long it’s going to take to heal,” he said. “Rehab and still having pain that’s not letting me play. It was getting better but I had a second opinion, talked to the doctors here.”
The Cavs have gone 3-7 this season without Varejao, who was to miss his 11th straight game Wednesday. Scott has only had his full complement of players for seven games this season.