CLEVELAND - For the first time since Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals -- or, if you're being picky, the 2016 All-Star Game -- LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will suit up as teammates when the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Chicago Bulls in a preseason matchup on Tuesday night.
After suffering a sprained ankle early in training camp, James will be making his 2017 preseason debut, while Wade will take the court for the first time since Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue announced that the 12-time All-Star and Cleveland newcomer will be a member of the team's starting lineup.
The Cavs' Tuesday night exhibition won't just mark the unofficial reunion of James and Wade, who won two NBA titles together as members of the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013, but the debut of Cleveland's opening night starting lineup. Joining James and Wade on the court at tip-off will be center Kevin Love, forward Jae Crowder and point guard Derrick Rose.
"I'm not sure about minutes," Lue answered when asked if he'll treat the Cavs' preseason matchup with the Bulls like a regular season game. "But yeah, pretty much."
Cleveland's new lineup marks a significant departure from just four months ago, with only James and Love remaining as returning starters from last season. J.R. Smith, the team's starting shooting guard for the better part of the past three seasons, has returned to a reserve role to make room for Wade, while Lue's decision to start Love at center and Crowder at power forward has similarly bumped Tristan Thompson to the bench.
Rose, meanwhile, will start at point guard -- at least until Isaiah Thomas recovers from his hip injury. According to the team, the 2-time All-Star, who Cleveland acquired alongside Crowder in exchange for Kyrie Irving this summer, is expected to make his Cavaliers debut by January.
With no shortage of fresh faces and a roster built on depth and versatility, Lue admitted his team's starting lineup is still subject to change. "It's something we're going to do to start the season and we'll see how it works," he said.
But for now, the lineup the Cavs' trot out on Tuesday -- and in their regular season opener against the Boston Celtics next week -- will be the one the Cavs start for the foreseeable future.
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