38-year-old Anderson Varejão, who’s been getting paid by the Portland Trail Blazers, is returning to the NBA

Yes, Anderson Varejão is coming back to the NBA.
Yes, Anderson Varejão is coming back to the NBA.
Image: Getty Images

Remember Anderson Varejão?

One of LeBron James’ most memorable teammates? One of the best Brazilian players in NBA history? The same guy who had been already considered “old” and “aging” years before eventually being waived by the Golden State Warriors in 2017? Do you even remember that he was with the Warriors for two seasons after spending all those others with the Cavaliers? Do you remember the Portland Trail Blazers thing? (We’ll get to that shortly if you don’t.)


But, of course, you have to remember the afro. Yeah, that guy is back. And, maybe because he’s missing the Cleveland Cavaliers, he’s returning to the team.

Reportedly, the Cavaliers want Varejão back so badly that they’re applying for the hardship exception because their roster is currently full. Last we saw him, he had been averaging 1.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in 6.6 minutes per game, and that was in the 2016-17 season… in which he was 34 years old.

So now, at 38, what’s Varejão been up to? It’s at least known that he participated in the Novo Basquete Brasil, Brazil’s top basketball league, during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, playing with the Flamengo Basketball club. He also competed in the 2019 FIBA World Cup for Brazil, averaging 10 points and seven rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the field and 89 percent on free throws during his team’s five-game run. In his NBA career, he averaged 7.3 points and 7.2 rebounds while shooting 51 percent across 627 regular-season appearances. He’s also played in 88 playoff games, including the 2007 and 2016 NBA Finals, and also got a ring for his contribution to the 2017 Warriors despite being waived mid-season.

It’s the rare signing of a 38-year-old from a team with a shitty record, but the 21-42 Cavaliers — whose first of their nine remaining games will be tonight against the Miami Heat — wanted to bring their guy home, so they did.

Oh, and that Portland thing. So Varejão was part of a three-team deal in 2016, and subsequently waived after being acquired by the Blazers on that same day. The Warriors had signed him four days later, on February 22, but because the Blazers waived him, Varejão had been getting $1.9 million from them every season since the trade, including this season, which is the last of the dead money, or, as we’ll call it, the Varejão tax.


Makes sense why he wants to come back now, right? The money’s running low.