The Cleveland Cavaliers have a lot of new faces, and a lot of new coaches, all working together in training camp for the first time. They have eight preseason games to work out the kinks and start to learn and embrace roles before the season kicks into high gear. The team is playing the long game, though. Despite his assertion before Saturday's game in Rio, Brazil that he could probably play if it was a regular season game, Kyrie Irving sat out with an ankle sprain. The team doesn't appear to be in any rush to bring him back now that they are back in the states:
David Blatt says Kyrie (ankle) "moved around quite a bit" at practice but Cavs "not gonna rush it." Likely out for Tues/Weds, may play Fri.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) October 13, 2014
Irving isn't the only player the Cavaliers are taking their time with in the preseason. LeBron James, at 29 years of age, is also likely to sit out a game this week. From Amico's report:
Following Monday's practice, James said he is likely to sit out one of the games, adding it will most likely be one of the back-to-backs (Tuesday or Wednesday). He added he had not decided which one.
"I haven't figured it out," he said. "I'll talk to Coach (David Blatt) and go from there."
James stressed he's feeling healthier and that his minor back issue is improving.
"I've been managing it pretty good," he said. "I feel pretty good right now and I want to continue that."
While James is still just 29 years of age, the toll on his body from a career filled with deep playoff appearances, Olympic participation, and lack of time missed due to injury is famously high. If the Cavaliers do have a gentleman's agreement with the Akron native on his service with the team for the rest of his career, managing his minutes is the smart play. It helps that Kevin Love, and, usually, Kyrie Irving, will be around to pick the team up when LeBron sits, either for extended minutes with James on the bench or for games that he misses outright.
Further, if the Cavaliers can maintain wing depth or see improvement from young players like Waiters and Thompson, the output needed from James is similarly managed. It's going to be interesting to see what Blatt does in the case of James expected minutes this year. I think my ideal number would be 32 minutes a game, but that's a much lower number than LeBron is used to. We will see.