The Cleveland Cavaliers believe star point guard Isaiah Thomas could return from his hip injury by Christmas, when they face the defending champion Golden State Warriors, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
The team added Thomas has made "real progress" as he rehabilitates from a torn labrum and a right femoral-acetabular impingement.
Vardon noted "Thomas has worked with weights and hip mobilization stretches; he's run in the pool and on a weightless treadmill, and is shooting stationary shots on the court with no ill effects."
Thomas, 28, was traded to the Cavaliers alongside Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and two draft picks—including the Brooklyn Nets' unprotected 2018 first-round pick—in exchange for Kyrie Irving. He spent his previous two-and-a-half seasons with the Boston Celtics and was superb in the 2016-17 campaign, averaging 28.9 points and 5.9 assists.
While Thomas has emerged as one of the NBA's most explosive scoring threats at the point guard position, his health is also one of the primary storylines for the Cavaliers heading nito the 2017-18 season.
If he's able to return quickly and develops chemistry with James and Kevin Love, the Cavaliers will remain the class of the Eastern Conference and a legitimate title threat. But if he's unable to return in a timely manner or if he doesn't jell with his new teammates, questions will emerge about whether the Cavaliers can keep their core together or if they'll be stuck rebuilding next season.
Looming for the Cavaliers is the pending free agency of both James and Thomas. If James decides to depart next summer, the Cavs could become a less desirable location for Thomas as well. The Cavs could always decide to blow up their roster and build around the draft again, too.
In other words, Thomas' health could have both short- and long-term ramifications for the Cavaliers.