The Cavaliers return to national television with a Dec. 5 home game against the Chicago Bulls on ESPN this season, but must first endure a brutal start to the season that is littered with playoff teams.

Ten of the Cavs’ first 16 games are against teams that made the playoffs last season, and that doesn’t include an early season game at Brooklyn against a Nets team that should be vastly improved following the addition of Joe Johnson.

The Cavs open at home Oct. 30 against the Washington Wizards, then host the Chicago Bulls before departing on a grueling 11-day, six-city trip that spans from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and includes stops in all four time zones.

They play four games in five nights on four different occasions and 22 games, or more than one-fourth of their season, will be played on back-to-back nights.

Former coach Mike Brown makes his return to Cleveland on Dec. 11 with the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron James and the defending-champion Miami Heat will visit March 20 and April 15. The Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder come Feb. 2 and top overall draft pick Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Hornets visit Feb. 20. The season concludes April 17 in Charlotte.

All games aside from the ESPN game will be broadcast in high definition on Fox Sports Ohio. The Cavs did not have any games on ESPN or TNT last season.

Still talking

As the Cavs begin to explore other free-agent small forwards such as C.J. Miles, negotiations with restricted free agent Alonzo Gee on a multi-year contract are slow and ongoing.

Gee’s agent, Andre Buck, said it remains possible they will eventually just take the Cavs’ qualifying offer of about $2.8 million. That would bring Gee back to Cleveland for one more season before making him an unrestricted free agent and available to sign with any team.

“I don’t see accepting the qualifying offer as a bad option for Alonzo,” Buck said. “If that’s the best option, we’ll exercise that option. There’s nothing wrong with being an unrestricted free agent next year.”

Gee has until Oct. 1 to accept the Cavs’ qualifying offer.

“If we have to take it to then, we will. There’s no rush,” Buck said.

“It’s late July. We have a couple months before we absolutely have to make a decision.”

Jason Lloyd can be reached at jlloyd@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at https://ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.