According The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd, Jae Crowder will start for the Cavs, meaning Kevin Love will shift to center and Tristan Thompson will come off the bench. Per Lloyd, Thompson is “accepting of returning to a reserve role.” Prior to last season, Thompson mostly came off the bench in LeBron James’ first two years back with the Cavs.
In starting Crowder, the Cavs are looking to make their starting five more modern and more capable of switching. The move means LeBron will likely player the free safety-esque role he played during last year’s playoffs. With Love at center, it means the Cavs will have more spacing overall on the floor and the ability to create mismatches against bulkier, slower centers. It likely will leave the Cavs’ interior defense more vulnerable, but Thompson will still play a significant role.
The change also means that only James, Love and J.R. Smith remain from last year’s starting lineup.
It’s unclear exactly when the Cavs will first use this lineup in a game. Because of James’ ankle injury - which will keep him out of tonight’s Wine and Gold scrimmage - it’s unclear if he’ll play Wednesday against the Hawks. But, either way, Crowder will start with Dwyane Wade possibly filling James’ spot in the lineup alongside Smith, Love and Derrick Rose.