Basketball: Bad ankle puts LeBron James in doubt for season's start

WASHINGTON • Four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player LeBron James will not play in Cleveland's last pre-season game and is in doubt for next Tuesday's season opener against the Boston Celtics, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said on Wednesday.

James awoke with a sore left ankle after scoring 17 points in his first pre-season appearance, a 108-94 defeat by the Chicago Bulls, and Lue declared the superstar would not practise yesterday or play today (tomorrow, Singapore time) in the exhibition against the Orlando Magic.

The 32-year-old playmaker, who led the Cavs to their first NBA crown last year, missed most pre-season workouts and three pre-season contests with a left ankle sprain suffered on Sept 27.

Lue said: "(James is) pretty mad, pretty p****d off. But I mean, it is what it is."

James has not missed a season-opener in 14 NBA campaigns, but the coach hesitated when asked about his availability against Boston next week.

"(James) got treatment all day today, so I'm not sure if we should be concerned or not," he said.

LeBron James scored 17 points against Chicago in their pre-season game but came away with a sore ankle.
LeBron James scored 17 points against Chicago in their pre-season game but came away with a sore ankle. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"But it's pretty sore today so we'll just see what happens."

J.R. Smith will start for James today with Jose Calderon moving into the line-up, Lue added.

James said after the pre-season loss to Chicago that the game was a test to see how his ankle was recovering from the injury.

"I'm pushing through it right now," he said. "I just wanted to try and test my foot, test my ankle to see how I would come out.

"I definitely wanted to test it knowing that at least if I tested it tonight I have a week until the regular season started if I don't play in the game on Friday."

James averaged 26.4 points and career highs of 8.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists last season as the Cavaliers reached the NBA Finals, losing to the Golden State Warriors. It was his seventh consecutive trip to the Finals and eighth overall.

The Cavaliers had hoped to have James play alongside newcomers Derrick Wade, Dwyane Wade and Jae Crowder, with Kevin Love moved from forward to centre in what figures to be a formidable line-up should they be able to work cohesively.

"It's a challenge when you've got a new team and you want to incorporate stuff," Lue said.

"Do we wish we had a little more time with him in the pre-season? Yes. But we have to make do with what we have."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2017, with the headline 'Bad ankle puts James in doubt for season's start'. Print Edition | Subscribe