Isaiah Thomas’ debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers is finally set.
Though rumors and speculation of his return from a hip injury have been floating around for quite some time, but according to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, his first game in a Cleveland uniform is now set to take place during the first week in January:
Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas is currently targeting the first week of January to make his season debut from a hip injury, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Thomas was a centerpiece of the Cavaliers’ blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in late August, with Thomas joining Cleveland while rehabilitating from a hip injury that ended his 2016-17 season in the Eastern Conference finals. He has yet to play this season but has made significant progress and likely has the ability to return now, league sources said.
Nevertheless, both the Cavaliers and Thomas have wanted to ensure he comes back — and stays on the floor for the long run without needing a game or two at times to rest due to soreness, league sources told Yahoo Sports. That has made a return unlikely for late December, which includes the marquee Christmas Day game against the Golden State Warriors.
This basically falls inside the window many people were expecting in the first place. The hope had been he might be able to return before the New Year, but with the Cavaliers rolling at 23-8, there really isn’t a reason to have him rush back, even if he is medically cleared for action.
Heck, according to IT himself, he may just wait until the playoffs to dust off his shoes:
Cavs Guard Isaiah Thomas is targeting the first week of April to make his debut, league sources tell IT!
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) December 18, 2017
It’ll be interesting to see how the Cavaliers incorporate Thomas into the fold. He’ll no doubt start at some point, but will they do that right off the bat? Particularly when they’re on a roll? And what does this mean for Derrick Rose should he ever get healthy? Will the Cavaliers let him run the second unit with Wade? Is he destined to end up on another team (shoutout Minnesota Timberwolves)?
Most importantly: How quickly will Thomas’ chemistry with the LeBron James and crew unfold? They needed a transition period to get used to the new world order once Kyrie Irving left, and this represents an extension of that. They should be better off for it in the end, but slotting another ball-dominant scorer in this rotation, even one with the off-ball chops of Thomas, figures to take some time.