BOSTON -- Anderson Varejao is one of the most coveted big men in the NBA this season.Averaging a league-high 14.4 rebounds per game with 14.1 points to accompany them, the Cleveland Cavaliers center is drawing major buzz in the first two months of the season.This isn't the first time he has heard his name mentioned in trade talks -- he averaged a double-double last season and nearly 10 and 10 the previous year -- so he isn't letting himself get sidetracked by an area of the game he cannot impact."I can't control it," he said prior to the Cavaliers loss against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. "All I've got to do is keep playing hard, keep playing my game, keep helping this team. If I get traded, I get traded. It's nothing I can do. I'm happy in Cleveland. I'm happy with the organization. Whatever happens, happens. I have no control."The Cavs acquired Varejao from the Orlando Magic after they selected him with the 30th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. He has been through the excitement of championship contention and the struggles of rebuilding. Even at 5-22, he is still dedicated to the Cavaliers. Varejao, 30, was upset he was sidelined by a knee injury and could not help his younger teammates take on the veteran Celtics."I hate when I'm hurt and I'm not playing and I'm not out there to help my teammates," he said. "It hurts. It hurts more than anything else to me, not being able to be out there."Varejao's commitment to his team does not go unnoticed. The Boston Celtics rank 29th overall in rebounding, and head coach Doc Rivers praised Varejao not only for his individual skills but his overall impact in the Cavs locker room."He's just a joy to watch," said Rivers. "You can see that in their play. You can see that in (Tristan) Thompson's play now and (rookie Tyler) Zeller that playing with that guy every day, it makes you take notice. I think he's been a great teacher for their bigs."Rivers continued, "He's the most active (rebounder). I'm sure there's somebody that has a better gift at it, but he's just an amazing player to watch. Not only the best rebounder, he may be the best passing big. He is skilled and his energy is part of his skill, but I don't think people realize how good he is."If Varejao continues his performance this season, it will be difficult to find those who don't realize his talents.
FOXBORO -- The Patriots have signed free-agent tight end Rob Housler to a future contract. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound target last played for the Bears but was released at the end of training camp.
Housler won't be eligible to participate with the Patriots during the postseason, but he will be available for the offseason program and training camp leading up to the 2017 campaign.
Housler taken in the third round by the Cardinals with the 69th overall selection in 2011. In 65 career games, he has 109 catches for 1,166 yards and one touchdown.
The Patriots may have been intrigued by Housler's skill set last summer when he caught one pass for 52 yards -- making two Patriots defenders miss in the process -- during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots and Bears held joint training camp practices in August that would have given Patriots coaches and scouts a closer look at everything Housler has to offer as a player.
Housler was one of the better athletes at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2011, running a 4.55-second 40-yard dash (fastest among tight ends), posting a 6.9-second three-cone drill, and recording a 37-inch vertical leap.
Bill Belichick and his staff hit big on a future-contract signing two years ago when a running back with a significant injury history was available to scoop up at the behest of then-assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi. Since then, the Patriots still have never lost with Dion Lewis in uniform.