It’s been no secret that the Cleveland Cavaliers organization does not want Zydrunas Ilgauskas to play for Lithuania in the summer olympics in Beijing this August. Worried about his health and the ability of his infamous feet to withstand such little rest, the Cavaliers would prefer he just stay at home this summer.
What was a bit of a secret, though, was that the Cavaliers also didn’t want Anderson Varejao to play for his native Brazil in the Olympics (Brazil has yet to qualify, so he would have been playing in qualifiers as well). According to Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon Journal, Varejao has agreed to not play for Brazil this summer, but instead rest his weary knees. He writes,
“Many of the hard feelings with the Anderson Varejao camp and the Cavs from last year’s nasty contract talks have eased and his decision to skip playing for Brazil in the upcoming Olympic qualifier is a sign of it.
The Cavs’ team doctors recently sent Varejao a letter asking him to consider rehabbing his ankle this summer and making regular trips to Cleveland to have it checked. Varejao was under no obligation to listen and was no doubt feeling pressure from his countrymen, but he decided to take the advice. He’s still planning on going to Brazil to be there for the national team’s training camp in a show of solidarity but has decided his ankle needs rehab so he can be 100 percent by September.”
This is good news for Cleveland on 2 fronts. First, the fact that he is working to be back at 100% by training camp is good for the Cavs, and second, the fact that he is getting along better with the Cavaliers organization is good for the team as well.
Certainly Varejao realizes that this is a walk year for him and if he wants the kind of money he thinks he’s worth, he has to come into camp in shape and have a huge year for the Cavs. So don’t think it’s pure altruism that’s behind this decision, but none the less, despite his poor post season play this year, he’s been a prime playoff performer in the past and a healthy and motivated Anderson Varejao is a good thing for Cleveland.