When Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James returned to Cleveland in 2014, his departure from Miami ended four years of being teammates with his close friend, Dwyane Wade. When Wade became a free agent this past summer, the idea of the two reuniting in Cleveland became a topic of discussion among basketball fans.
Wade eventually signed a two-year, $47 million deal with the Chicago Bulls, putting an abrupt end to that dream. In an interview with SLAM, the guard stated that he didn’t end up signing with the Cavs because he felt like he didn’t “fit” on the team’s roster. However, in reality, James indicated on Wednesday that Wade coming to Cleveland had little chance of ever happening because of the Cavaliers’ issues with the salary cap.
“We couldn’t afford him,” James said. “It’s that simple. I support my guys — you guys know that. That was a decision that he wanted to make and I support him.”
Given that basic fact, James stated that he doesn’t spend a great deal of time lamenting the fact that the two may never wear the same uniform again.
“In professional sports things can change from one year to another like that, so I’ve always had that perspective ever since I came into the NBA,” James said. “I’ve always known it’s a business and you could be with one team this year — have teammates this year, the next year you might not have them. That’s part of the business. So I’ll always have that perspective.”
Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com noted that the Cavaliers would have been more than happy to have signed Wade, but the only contract they could have offered him was a mid-level exception deal. That would have paid the veteran guard just $3.5 million per season, an amount they had used to bring back Richard Jefferson.
Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue seemed to agree with James about how valuable Wade could have been to the team.
“Who wouldn’t be interested in a Hall of Famer?” Lue said. “That don’t even make sense. Yeah, we wanted him.”
Like James, Wade left Miami to return to his hometown, in this case, Chicago. The two also evidently share a passion for helping their local communities according to James.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations,” James said. “I don’t really like to talk about what we talk about but he’s done some things in the community already since he’s been back to Chicago, and obviously he has a lot of ties there, being from there. So I think it’s been good for not only him but for the city, more importantly.”
On Friday night, James and Wade will meet for the first time since Wade signed with the Bulls. Once the season starts, they’ll have a chance to renew acquaintances four more times and may end up seeing each other during the postseason.