CLEVELAND (AP) — Together again: LeBron and D-Wade. Just like old times.
Wade is expected to clear waivers on Wednesday and then join the Cavs, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot be completed until the 12-time All-Star goes through the waiver process.
In Cleveland, Wade will be reunited with James, his close friend, former Miami teammate and a player he confided in before signing with his hometown Chicago Bulls last year.
Wade and James won two NBA titles together during four seasons with the Heat and will now chase another one with the Cavs, who have been revamped after losing to Golden State in last season’s Finals.
On Monday, James said he would love to play with Wade again.
“He brings another championship pedigree, championship DNA,” James said at Cleveland’s media day. “He brings another player to the team who can get guys involved, can make plays and also has a great basketball mind. … I hope we can bring him here. I would love to have him.”
Once Wade completes the waiver formality, he’ll be the latest high-profile player to join the Cavs, who traded for All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, signed former league MVP Derrick Rose and added two strong wing defenders in Jae Crowder and Jeff Green, who could help them defend the Warriors if those teams get back to a fourth straight Finals matchup.
Thomas isn’t expected to play until January because of a hip injury, but until he returns the Cavs have plenty of firepower in James, Wade, Rose and All-Star Kevin Love, who could thrive as Cleveland’s No. 2 scoring threat now that Kyrie Irving is in Boston.
Wade agreed to a contract buyout earlier this week with the Bulls, who signed him before last season as a free agent. He’ll get a veteran’s minimum contract worth $2.3 million with Cleveland, which now has a surplus of shooting guards with Wade, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver and Iman Shumpert on the roster.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue has depth and decisions to make.
“There’s a challenge every year when you add new guys and add all the guys we added,” Lue said. “Four or five new guys, it’s always tough and challenging. Anytime you get new pieces and new players it’s always challenging, but I’m up for the challenge and so are the players. We will figure it out. It will be a good year for us.”
The Cavaliers emerged Tuesday as front-runners over the Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder to land the 35-year-old Wade, who many feel has plenty of game left.
He’ll now have a shot at another championship — his fourth — while playing alongside James, whom he has been friends with since they broke into the league together in 2003. When James left Cleveland as a free agent in 2010 and signed with Miami, much of his reason for leaving his home state was a chance to play with Wade and Chris Bosh.
Wade played his first 13 seasons in Miami, leaving in the summer of 2016 to sign a two-year deal with the Bulls. But the Bulls are in a rebuilding mode after trading Jimmy Butler this summer, and instead of paying Wade $23.8 million to play for what likely will be a struggling team they agreed this weekend to buy him out and let him find a better situation.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Wade said whatever decision he makes would be “a pure basketball decision and I’ll make the one that I feel fits me best at this point in my career and with what I feel I have to offer a team that needs what I have to offer.”
Following practice on Tuesday, Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson said Wade would be a great fit in Cleveland.
“He’s a guy that’s proven, not just individually, but a team that won three championships,” Thompson said. “He’s pretty familiar with most of the guys on our team. … He’s always been a good locker room guy. We’ve never heard anything bad.
“It would be great for our team to have another championship-mentality player.”
Wade has averaged 23.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists in 14 seasons. He averaged 18.3, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists for the Bulls.
One of the game’s premiere closers in the postseason, Wade has averaged 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 172 playoff games.
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
Share your email below to receive our daily newsletter!