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NBA roundup: Varejao, Cavs reportedly near deal

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The Cleveland Cavaliers and center Anderson Varejao are close to agreeing on a contract extension, ESPN.com reported Thursday.

The deal would be for three years at an estimated $30 million, starting with the 2015-16 season. The Brazilian native is in the final year of a six-year, $42.5 million contract. He is making $9.7 million this season.

Earlier this week, the Cavs announced that Varejao would start Thursday night’s opening game against the New York Knicks ahead of Tristan Thompson, who also could get a contract extension before Friday’s deadline for first-round picks in the 2011 draft.

The 32-year-old Varejao has spent his entire career with the Cavs and was a teammate of LeBron James before James left for Miami. Last season, Varejao played in 65 games and averaged 8.4 points and 9.7 rebounds.

—San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, the MVP of the 2014 NBA Finals, will make his season debut Friday night against the Phoenix Suns.

Leonard missed the Spurs’ final six preseason games this month and the regular-season opener against the Dallas Mavericks with an eye infection. He was cleared by doctors to return, coach Gregg Popovich said Thursday.

Last season, the 23-year-old Leonard averaged 12.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals and helped lead the Spurs to their fifth NBA championship.

—Point guard Jose Calderon will be out for two to three weeks due to a right calf strain, the New York Knicks said Thursday.

Calderon, who missed the Knicks’ final two preseason games, was a late scratch before the season opener Wednesday after he aggravated the injury during warmups. An MRI revealed the strain.

—The Golden State Warriors exercised fourth-year contract options on forward Harrison Barnes and center Festus Ezeli for the 2015-16 season, the team announced Thursday.

But the Warriors declined the third-year contract option on guard Nemanja Nedovic.

In three seasons with the Warriors, Barnes is averaging 9.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

The 25-year-old Ezeli has averaged 2.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.94 blocks in 79 games.

Ezeli, the 30th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, is coming back from right knee surgery that kept him out for the entire 2013-14 season.

—The Charlotte Hornets announced the contract extension of guard Kemba Walker on Thursday.

The announcement comes the day after Walker scored 26 points, including the tying 3-pointer in regulation and the winning basket in overtime, as the Hornets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 108-106 in the Charlotte franchise’s first game back as the Hornets.

As reported earlier in the week, the deal is for four years and $48 million. The new deal will start with the 2015-16 season.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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