LeBron out for preseason, in doubt for opener
FOUR-TIME NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James will not play in Cleveland’s last preseason game and is questionable for Tuesday’s season opener against Boston, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said on Wednesday.
James awoke with a sore left ankle after scoring 17 points in a 108-94 preseason loss to Chicago, and Lue declared he would not practise yesterday or play today in the exhibition against Orlando.
The 32-year-old playmaker, who led the Cavs to their first NBA crown in 2016, missed most preseason workouts and three preseason contests with a left ankle sprain suffered on September 27.
Lue said: “[ James is] pretty mad, pretty p— off. But I mean, it is what it is.”
James has not missed a season-opener in 14 NBA campaigns, but Lue hesitated when asked about his availability against Boston next week.
“[ James] got treatment all day today, so I’m not sure if we should be concerned or not,” Lue said. “But it’s pretty sore so we’ll just see what happens.”
JR Smith will start for James today, with Jose Calderon moving into the line-up, Lue said.
James said after the preseason loss to Chicago that the game was a test to see how his ankle was recovering from the injury. “I’m pushing through it right now,” he said. “I just wanted to try and test my foot, test my ankle to see how I would come out.
“I definitely wanted to test it knowing that at least if I tested it tonight, I have a week until the regular season started if I don’t play [today’s] game.”
James averaged 26.4 points and career highs of 8.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists last season as the Cavaliers reached the NBA Finals, losing to Golden State. It was the seventh consecutive trip to the finals and eighth overall for James.
The Cavs had hoped to have James play alongside newcomers Derrick Wade, Dwyane Wade and Jae Crowder, with Kevin Love shifted from forward to centre in what figures to be a formidable line-up should they work cohesively.
“It’s a challenge when you’ve got a new team and you want to incorporate stuff,” Lue said. “Do we wish we had more time with him in preseason? Yes. But we have to make do with what we have.”
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