Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, Sanders, J.R. Smith

Coach Tyronn Lue is concerned about Tristan Thompson‘s playing time, writes Chris Fedor of, but the Cavaliers have few other options at center. Thompson is playing 30 minutes per night, his highest total in three years, and Lue is concerned that he might get worn down by playoff time. “We just have to try to figure out ways to get him off the floor like last night, getting his minutes down,” Lue said Saturday. “Then getting him off the floor tonight trying to do the same thing. He’s the only center we have. He has to play right now.” The Cavs thought they solved that problem when they signed Andrew Bogut last month, but a broken leg in his first game took him out of the equation.

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • Free agent center Larry Sanders, who was signed as a replacement for Bogut, appears far away from being ready to help, Fedor notes in the same piece. Sanders has seen most of his action in the D-League since joining the Cavs March 13th. He has played just two minutes in two games at the NBA level. “Well, we have to try to get him in some better shape. Right now his timing and shape is not good,” Lue said. “That’s why he’s been in the D-League playing and trying to get ready. The guys in the D-League say he’s been great. He’s just trying to work and trying to get to that point.”
  • Lue said J.R. Smith is going through “training camp” after missing a major part of the season with a fractured right thumb, Fedor relays in a separate piece. Smith, who has shot just 31% from the field in the 10 games since his return, was moved back into the starting lineup Wednesday. “It’s like preseason for him,” Lue said. “Just trying to get these games under his belt to get his rhythm, get his timing, get his legs defensively and lock into what we’re doing. When you miss training camp early in the season and then you get hurt early in the season it’s been tough on him. He’s got to work his way through it and I know he will.”
  • Starting Smith has weakened the team’s defense, according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic (subscription site). When Iman Shumpert or DeAndre Liggins started, they defended opposing point guards. Since the change, that task has fallen to Kyrie Irving, and the Cavs surrendered a combined 65 points to Kemba Walker and John Wall in back-to-back games.
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