Storyline: Dwyane Wade to Cavaliers?

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9 months ago via ESPN

Forward Tristan Thompson said he expects Wade will fit in well with the Cavaliers’ roster. “He’s pretty familiar with most of the guys on our team, whether playing against or playing with. I think he’s going to jell pretty well. He’s a veteran, he’s always been a good locker room guy. We’ve never heard anything bad,” Thompson said. “It would be great for our team to have another championship-mentality player on our team. It’s just more pieces to the puzzle.”

Twelve-time NBA All-Star guard Dwyane Wade is nearing a commitment to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers and could finalize his decision as soon as Wednesday, league sources told ESPN. Wade, who agreed to a contract buyout with Chicago, will clear waivers on Wednesday and become an unrestricted free agent. Wade has been pulled to rejoin LeBron James on the Cavaliers. Wade and James are longtime friends, and were teammates on two NBA championship teams with the Miami Heat. Wade, 35, is eligible to sign a one-year, $2.3 million veteran’s minimum contract with the Cavaliers.

Dwyane Wade to Cleveland?

Dwyane Wade is leaning heavily toward the Cavaliers as his new team once he clears waivers and may have already decided on a reunion with LeBron James, league sources with knowledge of Wade’s thinking told cleveland.com. Wade, 35, a 12-time All-Star and close friend to LeBron James, is expected to clear waivers Wednesday, when he is free to sign with any team. He accepted an approximately $16 million buyout of his $23.8 million contract from the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.

Though ESPN reported that LeBron James’ camp expects Dwyane Wade to end up with Cleveland if he reaches a buyout with the Bulls, a Wade associate has been telling people that Miami and Los Angeles are also appealing destinations for Wade. Chicago media has reported recently that no Bulls buyout talks have happened yet with Wade, and it’s unclear when they will happen…The person who mentioned Miami and L.A. to me was the same person who first alerted me to my scoop a few years ago that Wade’s negotiations with the Heat were not going well – the first time that information ever surfaced (and a year later, the sides divorced).

The Heat prides itself on lifers and loyalty and family, but the relationship with Wade has been contaminated by business. His relationship with James is more personal. And that’s where things become soap-opera interesting: Because James, power broker and paradigm-shifter, is in a position to either make the financial sacrifices to steal Wade to Cleveland outright by taking the minimum or merely create the game-of-chicken leverage that forces Miami to pay Wade too much because of the threat of its beloved icon going to join him in Cleveland.

The Cavs are happy to talk to Wade, but they don’t have a lot of options without dramatically overhauling the roster. As of now, they can only offer Wade the taxpayer’s midlevel exception worth $3.47 million. He can command more than $20 million annually from other teams in free agency. The Cavs can’t offer Wade that much without a dramatic move, such as trading Kevin Love. Not even dumping Iman Shumpert and his $9.7 million will free up the necessary cap space to pursue Wade with anything other than the taxpayer’s midlevel.

And yes, joining LeBron James in Cleveland is an option. Among a few still, and “a long shot” due to the economics, according to a source, but definitely an option, one that Wade is likely to investigate. The Cavaliers have been coveting Wade ever since James returned to them. They don’t currently have anything other than the taxpayer mid-level to offer ($3.48 million), which would be a huge reduction in pay. So they would need to make multiple deals to accommodate more salary, including finding takers for Iman Shumpert and likely Channing Frye. Or James would need to take a historically large cut, which wouldn’t sit well with the players’ union, but maybe he doesn’t care about that. He repeatedly told me, when I was covering the Cavaliers during the 2014-15 season, how much he missed Wade. That may be priceless.
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June 17, 2018 | 10:15 pm EDT Update
If that “somewhere else” was OKC, how would the fanbase react considering they are still applying aloe vera to soothe the burns of two summers ago? Newly elected Oklahoma City mayor David Holt is a lifelong Oklahoman. He served as chief of staff under the previous mayor, Mick Cornett. The two played significant roles in bringing professional basketball to The Big Friendly. “I am fully aware how Thunder fans have felt since July 4, 2016, because I feel it, too,” Holt said. “And I think we’ll feel that way forever if the status quo is maintained. Yet all KD would have to say is ‘I choose you,’ and virtually all fans would forgive him.”
Gabe Ikard was an All-American lineman for the Oklahoma Sooners. Now retired from football, the longtime Thunder fan co-hosts Franchise Players for 107.7 The Franchise in Oklahoma City. Those dual titles grant him solid insight on the psyche of the fanbase. “Durant’s departure to the Golden State Warriors resulted in the biggest backlash to a player’s free-agency decision in the history of sports,” Ikard said. “I’m not quite sure he expected that extreme of a reaction. I’m not sure Oklahomans thought that they would react so severely to his decision either. “But,” he added, “no one thought it would be Golden State. I find it hard to believe people that say they would not welcome him back,” Ikard said. “It’s easy to call him a snake and cupcake now. But if he was dropping 40-plus in Thunder blue again, a lot of fans would find forgiveness quickly.”
June 17, 2018 | 8:05 pm EDT Update