The Cavaliers have applied for a hardship exception with the NBA, in an effort to bring back Varejao and allow him to retire as a member of the team.
As relayed by FortyEightMiutes last week, the Cavs intend to bring back Varejao, a 13-year veteran and always hustling key member of some of their Finals teams (2007 and ’15). Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com first reported the Cavs’ hardship application.
A hardship exception would give the Cavs a 16th roster spot on a short-term basis. Given all the injuries experienced by the team entering the season’s final two weeks, it will probably be hard for the league to turn them down.
For starters, Matthew Dellavedova (neck), Taurean Prince (ankle) and Dylan Windler (knee) have each missed no less than three games and are expected to be out for the final eight games. And Larry Nance Jr. (thumb), Isaiah Hartenstein (concussion), and Lamar Stevens (concussion) have missed the last four games.
A hardship exception differs from a disabled player exception in that a DPE offers teams extra cap flexibility and “can only be used to replace a player who suffers a season-ending injury,” noted Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors.
Varejao, 38, hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2016-17, finishing his career (as of now) with the Golden State Warriors.
If the Cavs are indeed granted the hardship exception, he is expected to sign a 10-day contract. A team source told FortyEightMinutes that the Cavs are cautiously optimistic the exception will indeed be granted by the league.