CLEVELAND - As one of the most highly anticipated regular season games in Cleveland Cavaliers history approaches, the team is unsure whether or not LeBron James will be able to suit up.
After missing the team's first three preseason games with a sprained ankle, James made his 2017 exhibition debut on Tuesday, scoring 17 points -- and committing 8 turnovers -- in the Cavs' 108-94 loss to the Chicago Bulls. According to Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue, James tweaked his previously injured ankle in the contest, bringing his preseason to an end and leaving his status for the Cavs' regular season opener against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday in question.
"I'm not sure," Lue answered when asked if there was any concern about James' availability for the season-opener. "He got treatment all day today. I'm not sure to be concerned or not, but he's pretty sore, so we'll just see what happens."
The potential absence of James would provide a significant blow to the Cavs' lineup in their season-opener, which will mark the team's first game against star guard Kyrie Irving since trading him to the Boston Celtics this past offseason. At the forefront of Irving's trade request was his rocky relationship with James, with ESPN reporting that Irving had grown "tired of being Robin to James' Batman."
According to Lue, J.R. Smith will start in place of James at small forward in the Cavs' preseason finale against the Orlando Magic on Friday.
Whether or not Cleveland will continue to need Smith in a starting role come the start of the regular season next week remains to be seen.
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