Anderson Varejao's season has ended, dealing a major blow to the Cavaliers' NBA title hopes.

Cleveland's starting center tore his left Achilles tendon on Tuesday night in a win over Minnesota, an injury that will cost him the rest of this season and will force the Cavs to look for immediate help up front. The Cavs said an MRI confirmed the feared tear and that Varejao will undergo surgery "in the near future." A timetable for his return and rehab will not be established until after the operation.

The 6-foot-11 Varejao, one of the team's most popular players, was positioning under the basket for a rebound in the third quarter when he crumpled to the floor in pain. All of Cleveland's players and coaches came over to check on him before he was assisted off the floor without putting any weight on his leg. He left Quicken Loans Arena following the game on crutches with his leg in an immobilizing air cast.

The Cavs traveled to Miami on Wednesday for a Christmas Day game against the Heat, the first regular-season matchup between LeBron James and the superstar's former team.

Varejao's injury has stolen some of the buzz from that game as the Cavs are dealing with an injury that could alter their season.

Smith to Rockets

Josh Smith will join the Houston Rockets following his release by the Detroit Pistons, a person with knowledge of the decision said.

The person spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because Smith hasn't yet cleared waivers.

Smith was let go by the Pistons this week after signing a four-year, $54 million contract in July 2013. The small forward has averaged 15.4 points and 7.8 rebounds during his 11-year career.

He averaged 13.1 points and 7.2 rebounds in 28 games this season.

- Associated Press