The Cavaliers starting lineup is starting to take shape, with Jae Crowder taking Tristan Thompson’s place in the starting lineup and Kevin Love moved to center.
With Derrick Rose entrenched at the starting point guard spot until Isaiah Thomas gets healthy and LeBron James obviously pencilled in at the wing, that leaves one spot left to decide: shooting guard.
Dwyane Wade and J.R. Smith are currently candidates for the position, but Wade says he’ll accept whatever role the Cavs need him to play:
Dwyane Wade on playing the backup PG role: "My ego is not that big where I would not be OK to play any role that they ask me to play." pic.twitter.com/LINZ2PHKdI— clevelanddotcom Cavs (@PDcavsinsider) October 2, 2017
His full quote:
“I never thought I’d be playing at 35 years old . . . You always want to be able to be on the basketball floor, so you want to be able to do whatever your team needs you to do. No matter if you’re playing the NBA, on the Olympic team, no matter what. Everyone on the team has a role, whether you’re a star player at the time or whether you’re the 15th guy off the bench. You have a role, so you want to be the best in your role . . . Whatever role coach and the team needs for me to play here, my ego is not that big where I will not be okay with playing whatever role they ask me to play.”
Wade has been playing with the starters in spurts with LeBron James out with an ankle injury, but he’s shined as the team’s backup point guard, dishing five assists in short order at the Wine and Gold scrimmage on Monday night.
"I like it. It allows me to be a playmaker, which I love when you have guys like Kyle Korver out there, Channing Frye, sometimes J.R. Whatever lineups coach puts out there, it gives me an opportunity to have the ball in my hand, make plays and obviously score the basketball. There's so much talent on this team, I'm trying to get used to all the weapons that we have. But I like it. I like the changeup. I think the second unit is going to have to be very good for this team to be as successful as it wants to be."
Wade’s comments about being willing to play any role doesn’t mean that he’s ceded the idea of being a starter. It’s not out of the question that Wade could assume second-unit point guard duties even if he starts at shooting guard, but it certainly would be easier for Tyronn Lue to start Smith if Wade is willing.
This is probably the best case scenario for the Cavs, if it happens to play out this way. Wade is a dreadful fit with Derrick Rose and such lineups would cramp spacing for LeBron James. Meanwhile, Wade is a more than capable distributor as a backup point guard, can bully smaller guards in the post and can have his defensive deficiencies hidden by less potent second-units.
This also allows Wade to be paired with Kyle Korver in the backcourt while Rose can be paired with Smith for the starters. This just makes sense, and it would be a credit to Wade if he’s willing to accept a bench role.
This roster is loaded with players who would earn a ton of minutes on most teams, and especially once Isaiah Thomas returns, there’s going to have to be a ton of sacrifices from players and Lue will have a tough job ahead of him in making sure everybody is willing to buy in.
Wade can set a great example by doing so early on. We’ll see if he does.