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- When Dwyane Wade became a free agent in September, not every member of the Cleveland Cavaliers were on board with signing him.
- Though LeBron James pushed for his former teammate and good friend, some Cavs players were worried it would affect team chemistry.
- James said he was “bothered” by the reception of Wade, but has moved past it.
While Dwyane Wade has played well off the bench in recent weeks for the Cleveland Cavaliers, not every player was immediately on board with his signing.
According to The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd, when Wade reached a buyout with the Chicago Bulls to become a free agent right before training camp, James reached out to his close friend and former teammate.
However, according to Lloyd, the Cavs were fresh off a voluntary training session in Santa Barbara, California, and the camaraderie on the team was evident. Some Cavs players were worried that adding a player with Wade’s star power would affect chemistry, particularly when it meant likely cutting veteran forward Richard Jefferson, a popular locker room presence.
However, despite the “frosty” welcome, as Lloyd put it, the Cavs signed Wade anyway.
“It bothered me, but f— it,” James told Lloyd. “It is what it is.”
James also said of the move: “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?”
Wade said he understood why some Cavs players were hesitant about the signing, but was encouraged when James and head coach Tyronn Lue both wanted him.
“Bron asked me to come here, I talked to Ty Lue, he didn’t say he didn’t want me here, so I decided to come,” Wade said. “I know if it was anything bad then ‘Bron wouldn’t have asked me to be here or put me in this situation where I just wasn’t totally wanted. But I understand the difference, what they were coming off of and me coming in.”
The addition of Wade has caused some rotation struggles. The Cavs initially started Wade over J.R. Smith, but switched back when Wade struggled early and Smith seemed affected by the move to the bench. With fellow wings in Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert, and Kyle Korver, plus point guards in Derrick Rose and Isaiah Thomas, minutes have been tough to come by in the shooting guard and small forward positions. Wade is averaging the fewest minutes per game of his career so far.
While Wade has been a positive for the Cavs recently, the anecdote does little to dispel the notion that James can at times act as the team GM.