Date for Isaiah Thomas' return to Cavaliers' lineup unknown

NBA.com Global on Dec 29, 2017 07:57 AM
Date for Isaiah Thomas' return to Cavaliers' lineup unknown
Isaiah Thomas file photo

NBA.com staff report

Isiah Thomas and the Cleveland Cavaliers can't wait to get a look at each other in an NBA game. When that will take, precisely, remains a bit of an unknown as he continues his recovery from a torn labrum.

The last reports circulating about Thomas had him potentially returning to the lineup in early January. Just a week ago, Thomas worked out with the Cavs' G League affiliate, the Canton Charge, to get some on-court practice time as his recovery efforts continue. He was in uniform for last week's game against the Chicago Bulls -- but did not play -- and has been in a similar state for the Cavs' games since then.

According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the team is unsure if Thomas will suit up for a Jan. 2 (Jan. 3, PHL time) road game against the Boston Celtics. That game would be particularly relevant as it would not only be Thomas' first game of 2017-18, but would pit him against the team that traded him in the offseason for the Cavs' Kyrie Irving.

As Vardon reports, the Cavs have yet to set a definitive date for Thomas' return, and coach Tyronn Lue yesterday seemed to hedge on whether or not Thomas would play in Saturday's (Sunday, PHL time) road game against the Utah Jazz.

Thomas was out Wednesday in Sacramento, and coach Tyronn Lue was quick to rule him out for Saturday's game at Utah. Lue then hedged a bit by saying "I don't know" when asked if he was already sure Thomas wasn't playing against the Jazz.

Lue is holding a practice Friday in wine country, in his words to "get some shots up, cover defensive rules and principles and also scrimmage a little bit so Isaiah can get a feel and play 5 on 5."

Thomas scrimmaged last week with the Canton Charge but has yet to do it with his Cavs teammates. A source said he participated in 5-on-0 drills with the Cavs at Wednesday's shootaround -- a sign that he is indeed close to playing.

...

It's virtually out of the question for a player to play in back-to-back games after being out since May with hip injuries. So, if Thomas were to play against the Blazers, it would be hard to believe he'd also play against the Celtics the next night, even though that's the team which traded him to Cleveland in the offseason.

The Cavs and Thomas himself, Vardon writes, have been reluctant to have his first game back come against a marquee opponent. In line with that thinking, Thomas sat out on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors and he could sit out against Boston, too.

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