Cleveland point guard Isaiah Thomas will make his Cavaliers debut on Tuesday at home against the Portland Trail Blazers, coach Tyronn Lue told reporters Monday.
Lue said that Thomas will have a minutes limit while coming off the bench, and that he will not face his former team the following night when the Cavs play at the Boston Celtics to begin a five-game road trip.
Thomas underwent hip surgery over the offseason, and has not played for the Cavs since being acquired from the Celtics on Aug. 22 in the deal that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston.
The team has long targeted January as for Thomas' return, and he has steadily increased his practice work over the past several weeks. That included being assigned to the team's G League affiliate, the Canton Charge, on Dec. 21 to participate in five-on-five scrimmages.
Thomas, 28, is scheduled to become a free agent this summer. The 5-foot-9 guard is coming off a career year last season with Boston in which he averaged a personal-best 28.9 points on 46.3 percent shooting along with 5.9 assists over 76 games.
Thomas played in 15 playoff games, helping the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Finals against Cleveland, but was shut down with his hip injury.
Cavaliers star LeBron James joked with reporters recently that he had been playing video game NBA 2K18 in order to see how Thomas will best fit into the lineup upon his return.
Cleveland (24-12) has lost three consecutive games to drop four games behind Boston (30-10) and a game back of Toronto (24-10) in the Eastern Conference.