Since Andrew Bynum was dispatched to points unknown on Dec. 28, Anderson Varejao has emerged as the starting center.
He is not setting the world on fire, but his numbers are much better than his predecessor.
Bynum is 26 years old, but has the knees of a player who’s 50. He has little lateral movement, which restricts his ability to rebound and defend.
Of course, that’s Varejao’s forte.
In the last nine games, Varejao is averaging 9.7 points and 12.9 rebounds and shooting 44.9 percent from the field (35 of 78). The Cavs are 3-6 since he replaced Bynum in the starting lineup.
Bynum was shipped to Chicago on Jan. 7, along with three draft picks, in exchange for forward Luol Deng. He was almost immediately waived and is an unrestricted free agent.
Bynum was suspended for one game by the Cavs for conduct detrimental to the team. He was relieved of all team activities after that until he was traded.
The 6-foot-11, 267-pound Varejao grabbed at least 11 rebounds in seven consecutive games before that streak was snapped on Sunday. He had 10 points and seven rebounds in the Cavs’ 124-80 debacle at Sacramento on Sunday.
Varejao has taken over the team lead in rebounding at 9.8 per game, 15th in the NBA. Tristan Thompson is 17th at 9.7 per game.
A byproduct of Bynum being traded has been that it opened up a spot for second-year center Tyler Zeller. The 7-footer is averaging 8.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in his last three games.
The Cavs (13-24) travel to the Los Angeles Lakers at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Staples Center. They are 1-1 on their five-game, eight-day West Coast trip.