Wade, James to join forces again at Cavs

Dwyane Wade (left) shooting past Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart in April. A three-time NBA champion and the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 Finals, Wade averaged 18 points a game for the Chicago Bulls last season.
Dwyane Wade (left) shooting past Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart in April. A three-time NBA champion and the Most Valuable Player of the 2006 Finals, Wade averaged 18 points a game for the Chicago Bulls last season.PHOTO: REUTERS

Former Bull gets one-year, $3.1m contract to bring more muscle to Cleveland's title quest

NEW YORK • Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have reunited.

The Cavaliers announced on Wednesday that they had signed Wade to a one-year deal worth US$2.3 million (S$3.1 million).

The 12-time National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star adds notable depth to the Cavaliers' backcourt.

Kyrie Irving is gone after Cleveland honoured the guard's trade request by dealing him to the Boston Celtics. Isaiah Thomas, whom the Cavaliers acquired from the Celtics as part of that trade, is likely to be sidelined until January because of a hip injury. And Derrick Rose, who signed a bargain-bin deal as a free agent, has two surgically repaired knees.

There are no guarantees with Wade, either. At 35, he is fairly old by NBA standards. But he was productive with the Bulls last season, averaging 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists a game.

"There's no better place to be right now to continue to play and compete at the highest level," the guard wrote on Twitter.

"Cleveland believe in my talents and what I can bring to a championship contender, both as a player and leader."

KEEPING JAMES HAPPY

Adding Wade is less about raising Cleveland's ceiling and more about keeping James' spirits up. A happy James gets the new-look Cavaliers off on the right foot.

BEN GOLLIVER, analysing the situation in Sports Illustrated.

Crucially, he understands how to play next to James better than probably anyone. As Heat team-mates, the duo won two titles together in four Finals trips, with Wade making the necessary tweaks to effectively share the ball and spotlight.

In the two seasons before James landed in Miami, Wade ranked first in the league in usage rate. He adjusted his game slightly to make room for his superstar team-mate, sliding to fourth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in the three seasons that followed.

Now, he may be asked to swallow his pride and again adjust, this time to a far more diminished role.

Last season in Chicago, the opportunities were there for Wade to still be the main man, and he averaged nearly 30 minutes per game. In Cleveland, that number would likely be slashed to somewhere around 20-25.

But aside from reduced playing time and uncertainty about a starting gig, it is the end of games that could matter the most to Wade, one of the NBA's premier finishers.

Speaking to reporters in Cleveland earlier on Wednesday, James said that for him, it was all starting to feel like the first day of school.

"And your best friend is in your class," he said. "It's going to be fun."

Making - and keeping - James happy is key. As Ben Golliver wrote in Sports Illustrated, that is a more immediate priority for first-year Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman than helping Cleveland reach their fourth straight Finals.

"Adding Wade is less about raising Cleveland's ceiling and more about keeping James' spirits up," he wrote. "A happy James gets the new-look Cavaliers off on the right foot."

James, who could be a free agent next summer, said on Monday that he intended to finish his career in Cleveland. And as he prepares to enter his 15th season in the NBA, he remains motivated - by the Cavaliers' loss to the Warriors in this year's Finals, by Irving's unexpected departure, and by Wade's arrival.

"That's why I sit up here today, still in this uniform, still ready to lead this franchise to a championship, put us in a position where we can be successful," he said.

NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2017, with the headline 'WADE, JAMES to join forces again at Cavs'. Print Edition | Subscribe