INDEPENDENCE—The wait is over. The suspense is set to subside. At long last, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Isaiah Thomas will make his Cavaliers debut on Tuesday as the team plays host to the Portland Trailblazers.
Thomas will initially come off the bench under an undisclosed minutes restriction, and will not play in back-to-back games as now, but his entrance will mark his first bout of NBA action since succumbing to an injured hip during the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals.
“The medical staff says he’s ready to go,” Cavs head coach Ty Lue said on Monday. “It will be a process, but it’s exciting to have him back.”
Thomas was dealt to Cleveland late this past offseason in a deal for point guard Kyrie Irving, one where Celtics GM Danny Ainge said his hip was a part of the reason for the trade.
Through interaction with the media and his “Book of Isaiah” series on The Players Tribune, Thomas has long referred to this process as the most difficult phase of his basketball playing career. On Monday, however, he said he has never taken the game for granted and is looking forward to getting back into a rhythm while playing with his new team.
“It’s a blessing,” said Thomas. “It’s been a long process. I haven’t played in so long. It’s going to be weird feeling, but I’m glad it’s here.”
Lue was reticent to discuss how bringing the All-NBA guard off the bench will factor into the utilization of Dwyane Wade and Kyle Korver. Thomas, in not playing back-to-back games at this stage, will miss this week’s game against his former team, but stated that he “can wait for February”, signaling his knowledge of when his time will come.
As it pertains to Cavalier fans, Thomas has nothing but gratitude.
“They’ve been patient along with me,” he said. “It’s crazy because I haven’t played yet. To get that type of love when I haven’t given anything… I just want to give them something special.”