The Cleveland Cavaliers' slow start has been linked to such things as a shortened training camp, roster turnover, roster age, a defensive efficiency rating that is last in the league and a string of injuries. So maybe it shouldn't be surprising that LeBron James isn't counting on Isaiah Thomas to fix everything when he returns from a right hip injury.

"To be honest, I don't think it's too much expected [of Thomas]," James said before shootaround Thursday morning, ahead of the Cavaliers' game against the Houston Rockets. "I don't think we're relying on IT to come back. We want him to take his time. When he feels he's ready, he's going to fit right in.

"We can't rely on just one person. We can't rely on just one person for us to be as good as we want to be, whether it's IT or myself or Tristan [Thompson] being out. We have guys who have to step up."

The Cavaliers said in September that they expect Thomas, a two-time All-Star point guard, back on the court by January. Thomas has progressed in his rehab, however, and there have been recent clues that suggest he will return even sooner.

Yet James is quick to alleviate any pressure that Thomas might feel to be the savior for the uneven Cavs, just 5-6 on the season, when he makes his debut.

"IT is definitely a big piece of what we want to do, but IT hasn't stepped out on the floor in a Cavs uniform yet," James said. "We know what he's capable of doing, but he hasn't played with us, so we don't want to put that type of pressure on him, even though he loves it."

While Cleveland waits on Thomas, James is leaning on his past experiences with the Miami Heat as a road map while the Cavs navigate this rough patch.