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Cleveland Cavaliers could be without Kyrie Irving until January

Cleveland Cavaliers could be without Kyrie Irving until January
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving andforwardKevin Love, right, look on during a USA Basketball practice on Aug. 11. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

While the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to lock up nearly all of the pieces from its Eastern Conference championship team last season, they could still be without Kyrie Irving deep into next season.

Irving is apparently unlikely to suit up for the Cavaliers' opening game of the 2015-16 season against the Chicago Bulls on Oct. 27 and could be out until even January while he works himself back into playing shape from a knee injury, according to Cleveland.com.

Irving suffered a fractured kneecap during Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors that required surgery.

He was expected to be out only three to four months, which would have put him on the border of being ready to go for the opener. Now, team officials are more concerned with his long-term health.

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"I'm honestly not putting a date on anything," Irving said in July. "People are going to put a date regardless. I'm just continuing to be on the journey I've been on, and that's continuing to get better every single day and rehabbing my leg."

Irving, a former rookie of the year and three-time NBA all-star, averaged 21.7 points with 5.2 assists per game during the regular season. 

The Cavaliers will, on the other hand, have Kevin Love back on the court for the opener. Love was knocked out of the playoffs by a shoulder injury, but has said he expects to be ready for the first game of the season.

The Cavaliers signed veteran guard Mo Williams during the offseason and were able to re-sign Love, forward LeBron James, guard J.R. Smith and guard Matthew Dellavedova, who replaced Irving in the starting lineup during the finals. 

Williams will likely get the nod during the regular season with Irving out.

The only player who might not be back is power forward Tristan Thompson. In Cleveland, Thompson, who remains a free agent, could be looking at reduced minutes this season with the return of Anderson Varejao, who missed all of last season. 

Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme

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