Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks

Reports: Varejao, Bennett healthy for Cavaliers

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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.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James
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Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.

China basketball qualifies for 2016 Olympics

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China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.

China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.

Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.

The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.