ORLANDO, Fla. — Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Isaac Okoro will return from his five-game absence on Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic.
Sidelined first because of a sprained foot and then placed in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol, Okoro’s travel restrictions were lifted and he rejoined the team in Orlando over the weekend. After practicing Tuesday for the first time since the injury on Dec. 26, Okoro was taken off the injury report and cleared to play by team doctors.
“I think the toughness that he brings and that competitive spirit that he brings, the small things that he does that impact winning, we missed it while he’s been gone,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “And I think at his age, to be his position, to play the style that he plays, and have that type of impact is advanced for his age. We’re excited to have him back.”
The Cavs have been undermanned lately, losing two more players — Dante Exum and Darius Garland — on this road trip. Exum is out 6-8 weeks while Garland could miss about a week.
Okoro’s return is a needed boost. He will slot in immediately and provide depth with Dylan Windler (hand fracture), Kevin Porter Jr. (personal), Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova still out along with Exum and Garland now unavailable as well. So excited about Okoro playing again, Larry Nance Jr. pumped both fists when seeing Okoro at the team hotel in Orlando.
“He’s one of those guys who is fun to be on the court with,” Nance said. “He’s a mover, he’s a cutter, he’s a ball mover, hard-nosed defensive guy, so of course I love him. In terms of versatility and different lineups, he’s going to be huge for us, especially with the little injury bug.”
In two games, Okoro is averaging 5.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists.