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Isaiah Thomas inching closer to his return

The videos have been circulating for some time. Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas running. Shooting. Dribbling. Individual drills, aimed to improve conditioning while getting his basketball legs back under him. At least until today.

During the previous few weeks, Thomas has been seen working on specific dribbles and cuts with assistant coaches. Prior to the team’s recent home game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Thomas took part in his own shootaround following the team’s pregame walk-through. On Wednesday morning, however, Thomas was seen running around screens while being hit in the side by the team’s physical therapist, George Sibel, while receiving passes from Phil Handy. Thomas would follow up each screen play with a drive to the rim, again taking more contact.

While the team has not been willing to provide a timetable for Thomas’ return from a hip injury, many reports initially circulated that estimated the second-team All-NBA guard would take the court in January of 2018. Weeks ago it was reported that Thomas was ahead of schedule, but how far ahead being the ultimate question. The shooting and running and dribbling is great for fans to see as it builds anticipation of an electric player joining the team, but its the contact that is a decisive next step in getting Thomas back into game-ready shape.

Upon clearance from the team’s medical staff, it will be up to Thomas, head coach Ty Lue, and the rest of the Cavaliers to get the point guard up to speed with the rest of the team’s offensive and defensive sets.

“It’s going to depend on the schedule,” LeBron James said during Wednesday’s shootaround. “At that point, whenever IT is ready to go, it’ll depend on the schedule whether or not we’re going to have practice time for him to be able to be used to the guys. If the schedule’s not in the favor of that, then he’s going to have to get on the court. Sometimes that’s the best teacher when you’re learning on the fly on the floor. He’s a veteran, so he knows what to expect. This has been a difficult challenge for him with this injury, but the other guys on the floor will have to get his acclimated as soon as possible.”