INDEPENDENCE — It was a busy Tuesday as the Cavaliers held their first official practice of the preseason, but the most noteworthy news occurred off the court.
Twelve-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade is expected to reunite with former Miami Heat teammate LeBron James by signing with the Cavaliers when he clears waivers late this afternoon, according to numerous reports.
Wade will become the 16th Cleveland player — and eighth addition since the end of last season — with a guaranteed contract.
“I can’t speak about Dwyane, but it’s a challenge every year, especially with new guys,” coach Tyronn Lue said, adding, “I’m up for the challenge. So are the players. We’ll figure it out.”
The 35-year-old Wade, who will likely sign for the veteran minimum of $2.3 million, chose the Cavs over San Antonio and the Heat, the latter of which could have paid him about $4 million.
Cleveland also has about $2.55 million remaining from its midlevel exception, but giving Wade that would result in the team paying a much stiffer luxury tax penalty.
Like good friend James, Wade will be entering his 15th NBA season. He teamed with James and Chris Bosh to lead Miami to two titles and four straight Finals appearances in their four years together with the Heat (2010-14). Wade also led Miami to a championship in 2006.
“He would bring another playmaker to the team who can get guys involved, can make plays and also has a great basketball mind,” James said Monday at media day. “I would love to have him.”
With one too many guaranteed contracts, general manager Koby Altman will likely try to make another move before the Oct. 17 start of the regular season, either for a draft pick or by trading two or three players for one.
With Wade at shooting guard, Iman Shumpert would seem like a leading candidate. And with a plethora of small forwards, the Cavs also might be open to moving someone like Richard Jefferson or Cedi Osman, whose contracts are team friendly.
In the meantime, Lue will have a plethora of talent from which to choose, with some quality players likely not to see much action.
“There’s a lot of lineups we can put out there,” veteran swingman Kyle Korver said. “A lot of guys will be fighting for minutes, for sure.”
Wade reached a buyout agreement with the Chicago Bulls late Sunday, leaving about $8 million on the table from what was a $23.8 million deal.
Chosen by Miami four spots after Cleveland took James with the No. 1 overall pick in 2003, Wade averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists for the Bulls last season. For his career, he is averaging 23.3, 4.8 and 5.7.
While in the twilight of his career, Wade is still talented, but as a driver and mid-range shooter he’s much different than current starter J.R. Smith, who is mostly a catch-and-shoot 3-point specialist.
Regardless, the Cavs will have a lot of new faces playing minutes as they attempt to reach The Finals for a fourth straight season.
“It kind of feels like the new normal in the NBA,” Korver said, adding, “Change is good. It keeps things fresh.”
Lue has not watched replays of his team’s five-game loss to Golden State in the 2017 Finals and doesn’t plan to show any of the games to his players, but he did say, “Guys are hungry. It left a bad taste in our mouth.”
- The Cavs signed forward JaCorey Williams (6-8, 220) to their training camp roster, bringing it to the maximum 20 players and meaning someone must be released when Wade signs. Williams was Conference USA Player of the Year last season at Middle Tennessee State, where he averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. He spent three years at Arkansas before transferring and went undrafted prior to playing four games for the Warriors in the 2017 NBA Summer League.
- Derrick Rose, the team’s starting point guard until Isaiah Thomas is ready to go (the target date is the beginning of January), wowed his teammates with an up-and-under, left-handed layup in practice.
- The Cavs went over some transition and early offense on their first day, as well as some defensive coverages.
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