Dwyane Wade is leaving Miami this summer. There. I’ll be the first to say it. At long last it looks like the marriage of Wade and the Heat might finally be running out. Wade wants to be paid, and Pat Riley doesn’t want to hand him the big check he so rightfully deserves. As much as Wade sacrificed for that organization, the pay cuts he cook to bring LeBron James and Chris Bosh there, even the back-seat he took during LeBron’s ascension to the leagues best player, he’s earned the money he may possibly have coming his way. He brought that franchise its first title, followed shortly after by its second and third. For everything he has done, he should be paid whatever he wants, he IS the Miami Heat. But as we know, sports are a business, and not every business decision works out for every player. Miami wants to stay at the top of the East after missing the playoffs the first year after LeBron left, and injuries ended the season of Chris Bosh, and limited Wade. With the emergence of center Hassan Whiteside and the acquisition of point guard Goran Dragic, Miami wants to be in a position to pay all of the talent they have, and can’t afford to give Wade the max money he wants.
The writing is on the wall. When Wade was brought on the set of ESPN to discuss the NBA Finals, might have had the biggest slip of his professional career, “When I WAS in Miami..” He proceeded to talk after that statement but I doubt anyone listened to the rest. What did he mean, was in Miami? Was he not currently in Miami? Was Flash closing up shop in South Beach?
Rumors have been all over the place as of late. “Wade-to-Clippers” has surfaced, furthering pushing the Clippers to becoming a glorified All-Star team. My personal favorite, the “Wade-to-Lakers” rumor, would have featured the most high-profile disabled list in recent memory, as at some point both Kobe and Wade will be on it. Both of these were flash in the pan, one-shot rumors, meant to stir the pot and potentially grab some sort of pull for Wade’s camp in any upcoming contract negotiations. However, one rumor has stuck around in recent weeks, and is slowly gaining traction as free agency beings to creep up on the calendar.
Dwyane Wade to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
If one follows the situation closely, there are signs every where. Check Dwyane Wade’s Instagram account (@dwyanewade if you weren’t already there) and what other NBA Franchise is he following, rather, the ONLY team he is following besides the Heat? Let me give you a hint: it isn’t the Lakers or the Clippers.
It’s the Cavs.
Wades father, speaking at a church sermon last weekend, appeared dressed from head to toe in Cleveland Cavaliers gear. Why not show up wearing the merchandise of the team your son plays for?
Maybe he knows something we don’t.
What I keep circling back to is that infamous post-game hand shake and hug on Christmas Day, where LeBron and Wade met by the scorers table, and words were shared. Attached is the video, fast forward to the 2:44 mark, watch it through the credits, you can hear the post conversation. Go ahead, listen close, see what you can make out.
Couldn’t catch it? LeBron covers his mouth as he tells Wade: “If we aren’t better this year, we’re gonna reunite and do some bigger and better things.” That was it. LeBron was going back to Miami. In my head this little project with Cleveland wasn’t gonna work, the pieces weren’t right, and LeBron was going to reunite with Wade, Bosh, and Riley to chase more rings. It was only a matter of time.
What if the reunion wasn’t in Miami, but in Cleveland? What if in 2010 they decided that LeBron would take a few years in Miami, win rings there with Wade, and then in 2015, once LeBron made his triumphant return, Wade would come back to Northeast Ohio and help win one here? What if Wade was the answer if his Cavs weren’t “better?” It’s outlandish, it’s improbable, but those are some of the same words used to describe the chances of the Big Three being formed in the first place, and look how that turned out. It seems like the stage may be set for the reunion of one of the NBA’s best, and most short-lived, dynamic duos. Welcome to North Beach, Wade. Cleveland fans accept you with open arms.
I’m not one of those Cleveland fans. Sorry Wade, but take your talents somewhere else. For your sake and ours.
Before you disregard my unpopular opinion, hear me out, and keep reading. The Cavaliers have many needs to address this off-season, and Dwyane Wade should not be one of them. Really. I mean, REALLY.
Think about it, from the Cavs perspective. The glaring needs of the team are in the reserves. We desperately need a competent back-up point guard (sorry, Delly) along with another player or two who can create offense for himself and others. Too many times when Kyrie and LeBron went to the bench, the offense went vanilla and for the most part, stagnant. The bench, chalked full of veteran, but sometimes useless, players, will be all but cleared, save for James Jones, Kendrick Perkins, and (possibly) Mike Miller. Most of the activity in free agency will be addressing those needs: back-up point guard, addition of play-makers, and upgrading the bench.
You may be saying well, isn’t Wade going to address those needs? Yes, a few of them. Wade would in theory be a wonderful spark off the bench to lead the Cavs’ second unit. He could spell Kyrie if ever needed, and brings another veteran player with quality championship experience.
Now, even though it sounds like the acquisition of Wade this summer would be a huge get for the Cavs, there are reasons to be more apprehensive. This is where things get dicey for me. First, can we pay him? That is question one and one of, if not the most, glaring hole in this plan. He is potentially leaving Miami, the only franchise he has ever called home, because they won’t cough up the cash. With Cleveland management tying up a significant amount of money in the Big 3, while also attempting to hold on to Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and J.R. Smith, can we afford to bring Wade in on a contract he deems satisfactory? Most likely not. I also doubt he is at the stage of his career where he is content with being a ring chaser on a contender’s bench, signed for the vet’s minimum. If Cleveland wants him bad enough, it’s going to cost a pretty penny, while also losing a piece or two that was a part of our Finals formula. Stars don’t come cheap.
Second, can he stay healthy? This isn’t 2010 Wade we are talking about. Hit with a string of injures throughout his career, Wade hasn’t played a full NBA season since LeBron first joined him in South Beach, with the number of games he actually appears in seemingly dwindling every season. When he’s out there he’s been excellent, but the Cavs do not to deal with the “will he or won’t he” game schedule of Wade. We just saw firsthand the damage that injuries can do to a championship caliber team, why add another piece who is following apart in front of our eyes? Talented or not, health and consistency is key. Don’t believe me? Let’s just go to the Bay and ask Golden State.
Finally, and maybe this is my inner Cavs fan coming out, but I want to see LeBron James, the hometown kid, win one without Wade. The talk coming into last season was could James win a ring without Pat Riley’s guidance, or the help of his co-stars in Miami. He took a team with two injured all-stars, and a collection of role players to the Finals, bowing out to a team that some day will be looked at as an All-Time type of team. Not a bad first swing for the King. If Wade was to join in and then the titles come to Cleveland, LeBron will forever have an asterisk next to his name when he enters the Hall of Fame: Couldn’t win without Wade. Couldn’t get it done by himself so he brought in his guy. If I was James, and i’m not, I wouldn’t want Wade on this team, to prove to the world that I didn’t need Riley, Wade, Bosh, hell, even Ray Allen, to win a ring. He came to home to win that city a championship, you have to think HE wants to be the man to do it, not the Miami Heat 2.0.
Of course, all of this could talk could be for naught. Wade could be playing us all for fools, using his interviews, his hints on social media or the shirt his dad wears out in public all as leverage to get more money from Pat Riley and Mickey Arison. But I see the writing on this wall just like I did last Summer, when LeBron came home to Cleveland. The signs are there and boy are they similar. We could very well be seeing the Flash himself in a wine and gold #3 jersey in the next few weeks.
If the Cavs were smart however, they would tell Wade thanks, but no thanks, for financial and stability reasons. We were on the cusp of the title last year, and don’t need to add another star into the mix, just make sure the ones we have aren’t in slings and casts. The city of Cleveland has already been treated to one reunion for the ages, it doesn’t need to be the backdrop for another one.