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Report: Anderson Varejao cleared to return in time for training camp

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Anderson Varejao was having his best season statistically last year, until a knee injury forced him out of action in December, and then the ensuing blood clot that developed ended his season entirely.

Now comes word that he’s been medically cleared in time for the start of training camp in a few weeks, but questions remain as to what his role will be with the team, and whether or not he’ll be traded before the season is through.

From Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

I hear that Anderson Varejao was been cleared for all basketball activities when the Cavs open training camp in a few weeks. Varejao missed 57 games last season because of a leg injury followed by blood clots. In the last three seasons, he has played only 81 games … and missed 149 … due to various injuries. So it’s hard to count on him.

The 6-foot-10 Varejao will turn 31 on September 28. Naturally, he will have some trade value if he can stay healthy. But the Cavs want him to set the defensive tone inside, especially getting back to the excellent team-style defense that he played for [Mike Brown]. While he was a monster on the boards under [Byron Scott], his team defense (switching off his man to defend the hoop) suffered. Of course, that was an issue for the entire team.

Varejao averaged a career-best 14.1 points and 14.4 rebounds in 36 minutes per game last season, but only appeared in 25 contests.

This season, there is much more frontcourt help on the roster, so Varejao shouldn’t need to play nearly as many minutes.

The Cavaliers made some splashes in free agency, most notably by picking up Andrew Bynum and Jarrett Jack. They also signed Earl Clark, and selected Anthony Bennett with the number one overall pick in this summer’s draft.

Varejao has two years left on his contract at just over $9 million per season, but the last year is only partially guaranteed. If he shows an ability to contribute at a high level while staying healthy, Cleveland will have options to deal him at the trade deadline.

Although if the influx of free agent talent has the Cavaliers in position to meet this season’s goal of reaching the playoffs, they may decide to hold onto Varejao until next summer.

Watch it again: Epic dunk contest duel between Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon

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TORONTO — I am always hesitant to say a player/team/situation is one of the best of ever because the history of the NBA is filled with greats. We tend to overstate how good something current can be.  That said…

That was one of the best dunk contests ever.

Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on a show for the ages. Gordon had the best dunks of the night (in my opinion), but LaVine is consistently amazing, every dunk he does is flat out ridiculous.

Officially, LaVine won. In reality, we all won. Enjoy watching it one more time.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.