With the Cavaliers closing in on Atlanta and New York for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot, they spent Monday balancing a dose of good news with a sprinkle of bad news.
The good: Kyrie Irving is set to resume practice after missing two weeks with a strained biceps.
The bad: Anderson Varejao will miss (at least) the Cavs’ next game with an injured shoulder, officially listed as an "AC joint sprain." (As an aside, the injury has nothing to do with beloved FOX Sports Ohio analyst Austin Carr, known affectionately as "AC.")
Let’s start with Irving. The Cavs’ leading scorer and assist man missed the previous eight games. But the Cavs did OK — as coach Mike Brown utilized a three-guard rotation of Dion Waiters, Jarrett Jack and Matthew Dellavedova to go 4-4 in that stretch. Overall, the Cavs are 5-6 on the season in games without Kyrie.
There have been whispers the Cavs will continue to rest Irving on Wednesday at Orlando, then suit him up for Friday’s biggie at Atlanta.
Meanwhile, like Irving in the backcourt, Varejao is the Cavs’ most valued frontcourt player. Losing Varejao for an extended period, obviously, would be a big blow. But goodness knows it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve had to experience life without him. He’s been injured almost as much as he’s played over the past three seasons.
No word on when Varejao will return, as Cavs officials said his status beyond the Magic game "will be updated as appropriate."
So what does it all mean? It means the Cavs have to keep winning, regardless of who’s on or off the floor. They’ve found ways lately, showing promising signs of ball movement and raw determination over the previous 25 games (of which they’ve won 13). At the very least, they’ll be playing meaningful regular-season basketball in April, and that’s something they haven’t been able to say in the still-early era of Irving, Waiters, Tristan Thompson, etc.
According to an ESPN report, the Cavs’ signing of guard Scotty Hopson on Monday was done so with the idea of a big draft-day trade in mind.
That’s not necessarily a shocker. Every team that doesn’t win a title is exploring a big trade on draft day. In fact, the Cavs did so last summer but failed to pull off a deal.
But the point of the ESPN article made sense: Basically, acting Cavs general manager David Griffin put the Cavs in a better financial position with the Hopson signing.
As former Cavs beat writer Brian Windhorst wrote, "The second year of Hopson’s deal, worth $1.45 million, is nonguaranteed. The Cavs now have a stockpile of nonguaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts that could be attractive in trades around June’s draft."
That sets up the Cavs well as potential trade partners for team’s looking to shed cash. Several other teams are in a similar position with similar plans. But again, the Cavs are among them, and that’s always a good thing, playoffs or no.
More on Hopson
The Cavs signed Hopson for more than just to potentially use in a trade. They want to see what he’s all about.
Hopson, 24, is a 6-foot-7 guard. He was a big deal coming out of high school, when he played in the McDonald’s All-American Game. He then played at the University of Tennessee and was named All-Southeastern Conference.
But he went undrafted in 2011, as NBA team’s questioned his maturity and mostly, overall game. Scouts said he’s grown up a lot since then. "There were times I let myself get in my own way," Hopson said.
He has played professionally in Greece and was faring well in Turkey when the Cavs inked him to a two-year contract worth $3.8 million.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has wanted the playoffs for his team since before the season, and it’s evident he is as excited (and anxious) about the possibilities in these final few weeks as the fans.
"He’s praying for a miracle," a source familiar with Gilbert’s approach told FOX Sports Ohio.
Charge playoff tickets on sale
The Canton Charge have been in existence for three seasons and just recently qualified for the playoffs for the third time. That’s right: The Charge have never missed the postseason since becoming the Cavs’ affiliate in 2011.
Tickets for the Charge’s first playoff game start at $8 and are now on sale. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit cantoncharge.com or call 866-444-1944.