Signing Dwyane Wade to a veteran’s minimum contract after the Bulls bought him out of his contract seemed like a no-brainer. He’s a no-doubt Hall of Famer, one of LeBron James’ good friends, and it seemed like he had enough left in the tank to be a contributor.
However, via a piece by Jason Lloyd of the Athletic, it appears the Cavs locker room wasn’t really behind the move.
“There was a couple guys with it,” James said. “But it wasn’t a lot.”
The fact Wade wasn’t openly embraced bothered James.
“I still know what he’s capable of doing. Why wouldn’t you want another guy in the locker room that brings a championship mentality and a guy who can still play?” James said. “So, of course, it bothered me, but fuck it. It is what it is.”
Wade is a bit more diplomatic about his arrival.
“They had a style here. I don’t fit the style from what they played over the last couple years,” he said. “But this is a different team.”
It’s surprising that James was willing to drop that information so readily, but he clearly was not pleased that his teammates weren’t thrilled about adding his good friend.
In fairness to the Cavaliers locker room, the Wade addition required a degree of upheaval to the roster. The team was forced to trade Richard Jefferson, a beloved figured in the locker room, and Kay Felder to open up a roster spot and cap room at the cost of two second-round picks. Wade also was gifted a starting spot in the lineup, though that situation quickly remedied itself. Still, it clearly obviously hurt J.R. Smith to be bumped.
Ultimately, nobody on the planet likes when they feel somebody is being handed something because of their relationship. It’s not that jarring to imagine that Cavs players felt like their hard-earned spots and minutes could be taken by a guy mostly because he was LeBron’s friend.
That, luckily, is no longer the case. Wade has accepted his bench role with grace, and he’s played great. He’s averaged 12 points, four rebounds and four assists in his 23.4 minutes per game since joining the bench, and is developing chemistry with the veterans.
This appears to be the sort of situation that could have caused real tension in the locker room; Wade ensured that it didn’t.