(AP) – The King has returned.
LeBron James made his preseason debut Tuesday night after missing Cleveland’s first three games with a sprained left ankle. He scored 17 points, but also had eight turnovers in the 108-94 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
It was the first chance for James to play with close friend and former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade as the Cavaliers showed off their new starting lineup. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue brought out his new starting group for the first time now that James is back. He was joined by Wade, Kevin Love and newcomers Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder. Lue announced the lineup, which includes three former MVPs on Monday. James and Rose have won regular-season MVPs and Wade was the 2006 Finals MVP.
Rose finished with 13 points and Iman Shumpert added 12.
“Tonight, I was off. I could feel it,” James said. “It’s just my first action since the Finals and my timing was a little off and turnovers, I think, just trickled down to everybody. So, I made everyone’s timing off.”
The starting five was expectedly rusty with the group having spent little time together. Wade was just bought out by the Bulls on Sept. 24. Crowder and Isaiah Thomas went to Cleveland as part of the Kyrie Irving trade on Aug. 30. And Love was just recently informed that he’d be moving to center with the unit from power forward.
Love and Wade were a combined 2 for 19 Tuesday.
“I don’t think we’ll be the team we want to be in a week,” James said. “It’s going to be for the whole season. We’re going to have changes, we’re going to make changes, we’re going to become a better team as the games go on. So, the team opening night will not be the team that we know we can be.
“We’ve only practiced for two weeks and you play on the third week, that’s not like a lot of time to prepare, especially when you have so many new guys playing here.”
Rose will move to the bench once Thomas returns from a hip injury expected to keep him out for months. That second unit will then be a formidable group with a mixture of Rose, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver and Jeff Green.
As the Cavs maneuver a veteran-laden roster, the young Bulls move on from the Jimmy Butler era. Justin Holiday scored a game-high 28 points and 2017 No. 7 overall pick Lauri Markkanen poured in 18. Denzel Valentine finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
UP NEXT: The Cavs (0-4) travel to face the Magic on Friday. The Bulls (3-2) host the Raptors on Friday.