Cleveland has its sights set on one of the last couple playoff spots in the East next season. To get there is going to take more than just the “Kyrie Irving Show” — he’s going to need help. Particularly help along the front line.
Enter Anderson Varejao and Anthony Bennett.
Reports have both power forwards for Cleveland ready to go for the season.
In the case of Varejao, who missed most of last season with a leg injury, the Plain Dealer reports he has been cleared to get back on the practice court.
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….
But when Varejao has been on the court — especially the last two seasons — he has been terrific. Yes, it’s only 50 total games, but he’s averaged 13.0 rebounds and 12.5 points, shooting 49 percent from the field.
The Cavaliers might consider trading Varejao as we move closer to the trade deadline if he can prove healthy. That’s only if Bennett — the Cavaliers’ No. 1 pick — is ready to go. And apparently he is, according to the same report.
The Cavs top draft pick, Bennett has been in town. He is working out, playing some half court basketball with his new teammates. He appears fully recovered from his shoulder surgery and is expected to be ready for the opening of camp. The other players have been impressed by Bennett’s mid-range shooting touch and his quickness driving to the basket for a 6-foot-8, 250-pounder.
Of course the key to the Cavaliers front line is Andrew Bynum, and whether he will be ready to go when the games matter is not yet known (he is in Cleveland working out). But having Varejao and Bennett ready to go will be a big boost.
Deron Williams will be back with the Dallas Mavericks next season — and be ready to go by the start of the season.
He’d like to say he’d be back for the next few seasons, but coming off a Sports Hernia injury his options were a little limited. However, his recovery is going well he told NBC Dallas in an interview from American Century Championships celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe (which you can watch this weekend on NBC).
“Feeling really good. It’s healing pretty well, I’m doing a lot of work on and off the court. I haven’t got the full-go clearance yet, but that’s coming soon. I’ll be ready to go definitely by the time training camp rolls around.
“I’m running, I’m jumping a little bit. I’m just not going crazy. I kind of have to wait for August 1 for that, to go see the doc and get the go ahead. But it’s not much restriction right now.”
Williams averaged 14.1 points and 5.8 assists per game for the Mavericks last season and was solid at 32. His efficiency slipped a little (to be expected as he is on the wrong side of 30 and has plenty of miles) but he played well for Dallas.
Dallas signed him to a one-year, $10 million deal. Williams was hoping for a little more security.
“I was happy to come back. Would have liked a little longer deal but I’m back for one year and hopefully can build on last year and improve. I think there’s room for a lot of improvement. Hopefully I can stay healthy. I think that’s the biggest key but I’m excited about this year and this team.”
The one-year deal is more about Dallas than Williams — they could see a significant shift in plans when Dirk Nowitzki steps away (he inked a two-year deal but the second year is only $5 million guaranteed, so he could be in his final run if he wants).
Dallas added Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut from the Warriors to a starting five that also includes Nowitzki, Williams, and Wesley Matthews. If they can stay healthy — no little thing with that group — it’s a quality starting five that coach Rick Carlisle is going to love.
While the rampant speculation continues about whether the Celtics may or may not trade for a superstar, Danny Ainge is filling out his roster with veterans. Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reports that they’ve agreed to a one-year minimum deal with guard Gerald Green:
Green was originally drafted by the Celtics in 2005 at No. 18 overall, and after bouncing around different teams and overseas in the first few years of his career, he’s carved out a nice niche for himself in the NBA as a scoring guard off the bench. He played 69 games for the Heat last season after two solid years in Phoenix.
The NBA has unveiled its top 100 plays of the 2015-16 season, and there’s no mystery as to what were the top two.
No. 2: Stephen Curry‘s halfcourt buzzer-beater in overtime against the Thunder in Oklahoma City during the season.
No. 1: “The Block” by LeBron James on Andre Iguodala in the final stretch of Game 7 of the Finals.
There’s plenty more, too, and if you have 25 minutes to kill, you can and should watch all of them above.
Tyler Zeller is one of the few restricted free agents left on the market who could make an actual impact next season, and on Saturday morning, he’s come off the board. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports that the fourth-year big man has agreed to a deal to stay with the Celtics. It’s for two years and $16 million, with the second season being a team option.
Zeller isn’t a starter, but he’s a nice rotation big man, especially at that price. He can play minutes off the bench for Boston, and his contract is also very movable with the second season being unguaranteed. He played just 11.8 minutes per game last season, but averaged 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes.