LeBron James questionable for Cavaliers' season opener vs. Celtics with ankle injury

LeBron James made his first preseason appearance in Tuesday night's 108-94 loss to the Chicago Bulls, testing out a sprained left ankle that had kept him out of most practices and all exhibition games for nearly two weeks.

James had 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and eight turnovers in 30 minutes during his preseason debut, but the ankle did not respond well on Wednesday. As a result, James has been shut down for the rest of the preseason, and is even questionable for the Cavaliers' Oct. 17 season opener against the Boston Celtics. From Joe Vardon of cleveland.com:

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said James would not practice Thursday or play Friday in the preseason finale Friday in Orlando, and even questioned if James would play in the season opener Oct. 17 against the Boston Celtics.

"He was experiencing soreness so he won't practice tomorrow, he won't play on Friday, either," Lue said. "So, um, (LeBron is) pretty mad, pretty pissed off. But I mean, it is what it is."

J.R. Smith will start for James and Jose Calderon will move into Lue's player rotation with James out on Friday, Lue said.

As for James' availability against the Celtics next week, Lue said James "got treatment all day today, so I'm not sure if we should be concerned or not.

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

The already highly-anticipated season opener between the Cavaliers and the Celtics became absolute must-watch television when Kyrie Irving was traded from Cleveland to Boston in early September. The game lost a little bit of luster when it was revealed that Isaiah Thomas won't be playing against his former team due to his hip injury, and the excitement would be dropped a couple more pegs if we don't get a chance to see James and Irving going head to head.

LeBron has never been one to sit out for large chunks of time -- he's only missed more than 10 games in two of his 15 NBA seasons -- but at age 32 he'll likely be more careful. The Cavs have new pieces to incorporate in Dwyane WadeDerrick Rose and Jae Crowder, but they would never sacrifice LeBron's long-term health just to have him on the court to start the season.

For the sake of great basketball, however, we'll keep our fingers crossed that LeBron's ankle is healthy and ready to go for opening night.

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