After being sidelined for much of training camp with a sprained left ankle, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James made his preseason debut Tuesday night against the Chicago Bulls. James played a team-high 30 minutes in the 108-94 defeat, accounting for 17 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field, five rebounds three assists and eight turnovers.
While James did show some signs of rust, the bigger concern was how his ankle would respond. On Wednesday, it was reported by Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com that James woke up experiencing soreness in his ankle, which led to the Cavaliers making the decision to shut down the perennial MVP candidate for the remainder of the preseason.
“He was experiencing soreness so he won’t practice tomorrow, he won’t play on Friday, either,” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said Wednesday. “So, um, (LeBron is) pretty mad, pretty pissed off. But I mean, it is what it is.”
Cleveland finishes its preseason schedule with a game against the Orlando Magic on Friday night, with J.R. Smith being moved into the starting lineup in place of LeBron James and veteran guard Jose Calderon likely to be a greater factor in Lue’s rotation.
But the importance of that game, at least for the players who know they’ll be on the final roster, pales in comparison to the regular-season opener against the Boston Celtics on Oct. 17. Per Vardon, Lue did not have a definitive answer with regards to James’ status for that game. James is undergoing treatment on his ankle, and that will likely remain the case in the days leading up to the opener.