Being in the NBA preseason, most teams would normally preserve their star players especially if they are injured. LeBron James sprained his ankle last Sept. 27 but rejoined the Cavs against the Chicago Bulls. Cleveland lost to Chicago to fall to 0-4 though the bigger news is James aggravating his injury.

According to the Associated Press, James may not play again for the rest of the preseason. Even worse, he may miss the season opener against the Boston Celtics. That inaugural game is expected to be emotionally charged with former Cavs guard Kyrie Irving playing for the Celts.

Lots of work ahead

The Cavs have struggled in the preseason. With new faces like Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose in the fold, Cleveland finds itself in a period of adjustment.

James is expected to lead the team, but his ankle injury could get in the way of that. Ultimately, this means that Tyronn Lue will have to find someone else to lead the Cavaliers, like Wade or D-Rose. Another option is to lean on one of the veterans like J.R. Smith or Kevin Love because Wade and Rose are new faces on the roster.

Smith elevated to starting unit

In a previous post, Smith was reportedly frustrated for being relegated to a bench role. Lue opted to name Wade as the starting guard this 2017-18 NBA season alongside Derrick Rose.

However, Wade will be tasked to do some playmaking with Lue planning to manage Rose's minutes. Aside from that, the Cavs head coach plans to use Rose to lead his second unit. Though he may have lost his starting job, Smith will still be the first one off the bench.

But with the ankle injury of James, the 32-year-old has been elevated back to a starting role.

He will likely play at the stretch small forward position, a temporary setup as the Cavs try to buy James time to recuperate.

Rocky road ahead for Cavs

For Lebron James, resting and allowing his ankle to heal properly is the priority. Tyronn Lue will have to establish team chemistry in some other way, hopefully in time for the regular season.

The Cavs kicks off their 2017-18 campaign on Oct. 17 against the Celtics.

Looking at their schedule, only the Milwaukee Bucks (Oct. 20) and the New Orleans Pelicans (Oct. 28) loom as teams that may give them problems. The key matchup will, however, be against the Houston Rockets set for Nov. 9 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

With James Harden and Chris Paul joining forces, it remains to be seen if James can nurse himself back to shape inside two-and-a-half weeks. Forcing the issue would be a bad idea with James most likely ending up being on and off the court.