LeBron James a doubt for Cavaliers’ NBA opener against Celtics after preseason injury
James ‘pretty mad’ after suffering sore ankle during defeat in exhibition game by Chicago Bulls
LeBron James will not play in Cleveland’s last preseason game and is questionable for next week’s season opener against Boston, said Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue.
James awoke with a sore left ankle after scoring 17 points in his first preseason appearance, a 108-94 loss to Chicago, and Lue declared he would not practise or play in the exhibition against Orlando this week.
The 32-year-old, 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 pissed 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.
“He got treatment all day today, so I’m not sure if we should be concerned or not,” Lue said. “But it’s pretty sore today so we’ll just see what happens.”
J.R. Smith will start for James against the Magic with Jose Calderon moving into the line-up.
“I’m pushing through it right now,” James said after the defeat by Chicago. “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 in the game on Friday.”
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 Cavaliers 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 be able to 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 a little more time with him in the preseason? Yes. But we have to make do with what we have.”