It was inevitable, the re-marriage between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as Wade committed to playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers after clearing waivers with the Bulls following his buyout.
Iconic moments, indelible images and South Beach parades are in the rearview mirror but another June appearance is likely for the Cavaliers as they hope to close the gap between themselves and the champion Golden State Warriors.
“It's simple for me man,” Wade told CSNChicago.com Monday. “I wanna get back to competing at the highest level and competing for a championship.”
He’ll get that shot in Ohio.
And oh yeah, Derrick Rose is part of the team, too, making 2011 Bulls fan feel very jealous or wistful considering how close that trio was to linking in Chicago in the summer of 2010 when Wade and James were free agents.
The events of the next few years are seared into the minds of those who’ve watched the Bulls suffer at the hands of James, as his teams have blown through the Bulls three times in his streak of seven straight Finals appearances—the first of which occurred in 2011 when Rose, at MVP form, wasn’t enough to take more than a game from James and Wade’s Heat squad in the East Finals.
James and Wade won two titles together, in 2012 and '13, making the Finals every year of their four in Miami. One would expect that streak to continue, as Wade signed for $2.3 million this season after giving back $8.5 million of his $23.8 million deal with the Bulls in a buyout.
“It's obviously different now than it was three or four years ago or five years ago, how many years ago was it?” queried Fred Hoiberg when asked if it was weird to see those three in Cavs red rather than Bulls red.
“Seven years ago. Have that group on the floor at that stage of their career. When you have LeBron, the most dominant player in the game on the floor, surround really high quality players with him, they're gonna be a force.”
Rose will be a reserve when Isaiah Thomas returns from his hip injury and it hasn’t been said whether Wade will be a starter or if the Cavaliers will stick with J.R. Smith. It’ll be curious to see how those three will fit on the floor together considering Wade nor Rose are feared perimeter shooters.
“I had the opportunity to coach Derrick, I love that year I was able to be around him,” Hoiberg said. “I like Derrick a lot, wish him nothing but the best and the same thing with Dwyane, the chance to coach a first ballot hall of famer.”
With Wade approaching age 36 and coming off a solid season with the Bulls where he averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 29.9 minutes, one would think he’ll be even more invigorated playing for a true title contender since the 2013-14 season—his last with James in Miami.
“First of all, I’m excited for Dwyane to get the opportunity to go compete for a championship again,” Hoiberg said. “Dwyane being in this stage of his career, to have that opportunity is very important to him as he winds down his career. I think it’s great for the Cavs. He’s going to an established situation, he’s obviously going to play with a guy that he has great chemistry with and won championships with in LeBron. I’m excited for Dwyane’s opportunity.’’
With five 30-point games and 21 20-point games last season, he was a capable option behind Jimmy Butler. As a third or fourth option in Cleveland, he could find scoring easier with James as a setup man.
“He’s always capable on any night to have a big-scoring game,” Hoiberg said. “He showed last year, especially in clutch situations, to be able to take over a game and make clutch plays, and that’s what he’s been doing his whole career.’’
Wade issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, announcing his signing with the Cavaliers and wrapping up his time in his hometown, Chicago.
“I've always dreamed of playing for the Chicago Bulls and I feel so fortunate to have fulfilled my dream this past year,” Wade said. “The team is now heading in a different direction, which has made me reevaluate where I need to be in this phase of my career. Being a part of a team that is in the process of rebuilding doesn't align with where I want to be right now no matter how difficult that decision may be.”
“In the hopes of pursuing a fourth championship, I've reached a deal with the Chicago Bulls and I am excited to share that I will be joining the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. There's no better place to be right now to continue to play and compete at the highest level. Cleveland believes in my talents and what I can bring to a championship contender both as a player and leader. I look forward to reuniting and playing alongside my brother LeBron. We’ve already won two championships together and I hope we win a third.”