INDEPENDENCE (92.3 the Fan) – Armed with a bevy of depth off the bench to a degree LeBron James has never seen in Cleveland, the Cavaliers are set to bring even more talent back in the next 14 days.
Head coach Tyronn Lue said the plan is for F/C Tristan Thompson to return Tuesday night against the Atlanta Hawks, dependent on how he recovers from Monday’s workout. Thompson has been out since November 1st with a strained calf that the 26-year-old called ‘worse’ than a strain.
Not far behind Thompson is All-NBA point guard Isaiah Thomas, who is rumored to return before the Cavs’ Christmas Day matinee against the champion Golden State Warriors, though Lue maintains the team truly does not know if that is achievable.
Upon their return, and potentially that of Iman Shumpert, Lue will continue to need to re-shuffle his rotation based on his wealth of riches. That change will not be easy, especially given the team winning their last 14-of-15 headed into Tuesday.
If Thompson returns Tuesday, Lue reiterated that he will not start, which he had been upon being injured. Lue also said that his replacement in the rotation, Channing Frye, will remain alongside Kyle Korver in the second unit due to their success in the interim.
Lue dislikes playing even 10 players in his rotation, but will be pushed even further with his starting five, Dwyane Wade, Korver, Frye, Jeff Green and Cedi Osman. Regardless, the head coach still sees Thompson as important.
“Tristan is a big part of what we do,” Lue said, though he would reveal his tactics for Thompson’s return. “However we’ve got to figure out however we’ve got to use him, we got to do that. I have a plan in place, and we’ll just see how it works.”
Thompson was adamant that he is not worried about his playing time so long as the team is winning. They were not doing so with him, and have done so without him, though the two are not correlated.
The 6-foot-9 Canadian said he is more worried about returning to health so that he can get his days off, rather than the intense rehab of his days away.
“First time ever in my career I’ve missed a lot of time,” Thompson said. “It’s more work when you’re injured than when you’re healthy. You’ve got to do way more work, so I don’t like being hurt. I’d rather play, get my days off. On my days off, I’ve got to come in still. I want to get back on the court.”
Thompson was averaging career lows in minutes (21.6), points (4.4) and rebounds (6.4) per contest through his eight games. His per 36 minutes and 100 possession numbers in those categories were also among his worst.