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Tristan Thompson expected to return Tuesday, will come off bench

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Tristan Thompson will finally return to the Cavs soon.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Tristan Thompson hasn’t played since November 1 due to a calf injury, and problems with a lingering knee injury limited his play when he did suit up.

Well, it’s nearly time for Thompson to return to the team, as Tyronn Lue expects Thompson to play on Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks.

This was always the perfect spot in the schedule to bring Thompson back into the fold. The Cavaliers don’t practice often, but with a home game on Saturday, Sunday and Monday off before playing at home against Atlanta on Tuesday, the team was able to run an actual practice to help re-integrate Thompson and give him a good run.

There’s been plenty of questions as to what Thompson’s role will be once he returns, and Tyronn Lue says that Thompson will come off the bench.

This is an interesting decision by Lue, and could have ripple effects. Adding Thompson to a bench unit that has thrived behind the spacing provided by Kyle Korver and Channing Frye could hurt the offense of one of the more productive units the Cavs have ever had without LeBron James on the floor.

Alternatively, adding Thompson to the starting lineup isn’t the easiest fix either. Jae Crowder is finally settling into his role, and LeBron James is benefitting from all the extra space that lineup creates with perhaps his most impressive offensive season of all time.

Ultimately, what the Cavaliers need is for Thompson to re-discover his mojo. The knee problems have reduced his effectiveness, and a limited Tristan Thompson is one that is hard to find minutes for. When he’s at his best, there’s few more effective specialists in the world. If the Cavaliers want to get where they’re eventually hoping to go, they need Thompson at his best.

We’ll see if he gets back there.