Report: Despite back issues, Cavs expect LeBron to be ready for opener

LeBron James will have a heavy load to carry for the Cavs all season.
Steve Mitchell/Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

When the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday to open the NBA season, the defending Eastern Conference champion should have its best player on the floor.

There were reports Friday that LeBron James’ status for the season opener was still in doubt and that he was not practicing. But according to Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears, the Cavs expect James to be ready on Tuesday, even though he is experiencing issues with his back:

LeBron James is expected to play in the Cleveland Cavaliers' regular-season opener next week despite his recent back problems, a league source told Yahoo Sports on Saturday.

James received an anti-inflammatory injection in his back on Oct. 13 and has played in only two preseason games. James, however, has been working out daily and his back is improving, the source said.

Cavs coach David Blatt had expressed his confidence that James would play earlier in the week, saying he would "absolutely" play. Cavaliers general manager David Griffin told reporters that he didn’t think there was any reason James would miss Tuesday’s game, according to the Associated Press, while allowing that the Cavs would be fine if their star needed to rest:

“He really wants to compete,” Griffin said. “I don't think that there's any reason that he won't play on Tuesday. We have no reason to believe that, but we also are of the mindset that it wouldn't be the end of the world if he didn't play on Tuesday. We just want him to get better every day and he has been and he's been progressing and feeling like we'd like him to feel.”

The Cavs’ opening-night opponent, the Bulls, also have injury concerns. Point guard Derrick Rose made his preseason debut on Friday after suffering a broken orbital bone in Chicago’s very first practice of the season. Joakim Noah, meanwhile, will reportedly come off the bench for the Bulls after starting in 275 of his past 277 regular-season games.

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