The Cleveland Cavaliers are predicted to finish on top of the Eastern Conference once again and make a run at the NBA Finals in the upcoming season. Much of that will be determined by the health of Kyrie Irving. The point guard suffered a season-ending injury against the Atlanta Hawks in last year's playoffs and his absence was clearly felt when the team lost to the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. With Irving still not healthy, when will the point guard make his return to the court?
According to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com, Irving is expected to return sooner than expected as the Cavaliers are hopeful he plays some time before January. The original report around Irving was that he would not be back until the end of January or February. However, Irving's rehab is reportedly going well and the point guard is looking to make it back in time for the second-half of the season.
Until Irving comes back, Mo Williams and Matthew Dellavedova will take care of the point guard position. Dellavedova was a rising star at the end of last season and agreed to sign his qualifying offer to return to Cleveland. Williams will help take some of the workload from the young star and together they should handle the duties with ease.
The Cavaliers are considered to be the team to beat this upcoming year, but a lot of that will be determined by the status of Tristan Thompson. According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Cavaliers and Thompson are at a standstill in terms of contract negotiations with a deal not expected to come this season. The likely outcome is Thompson signing his qualifying offer and potentially departing in free agency. Regardless, Thompson will be motived by a lack of a long-term contract.
Kevin Pelton of ESPN reports that even if Irving is not ready to start the season, the Cavaliers are still the favorites in the East, but not to win the title. There are reports that if Thompson does not return to Cleveland, James will consider leaving the franchise. There is no solid evidence to support that claim, but James is pushing to get the deal with Thompson done and likely will not be thrilled if the power forward is not signed before the season.