BOCA RATON – The process has started for Dwyane Wade to officially become a free agent.
As expected, Wade was placed on waivers late Monday by the Chicago Bulls starting the clock on the 48-hour period it will take to clear those waivers. At that point he can sign with any team.
Of course, that puts the Miami Heat directly in the crosshairs as Wade decides whether he wants to return to the organization in which he spent his first 13 seasons or make a run at a fourth title by joining a team closer to winning a championship, like Cleveland, and teaming with one of his good buddies, LeBron James.
James made it clear he wants Wade in Cleveland when asked about it during Cleveland’s media day on Monday and report today says Wade is learning heavily toward signing with Cleveland.
“I would love to have D-Wade a part of this team,” James said. “I think he brings another championship DNA, championship pedigree. He brings another playmaker to the team who can get guys involved and make plays, and also just has a great basketball mind.
“I think it would be great to have him here. … I’ve talked to D-Wade throughout the whole summer, and I probably will reach out to him as well, but it’s really not up to me. It’s up to D-Wade if he can clear waivers and then it’s up to our front office. But I hope that we can bring him here. I would love to have him.”
Wade, though, appears anxious for the process to start, posting on social media that on Monday he missed his first media day and will miss his first day of training camp in his 15-year career. He added: “I can’t wait to lace em up.”
Meanwhile, the Heat, who start camp today at Florida Atlantic University, to a man expressed their desire for Wade to return when asked about it during Monday’s media day.
“When you talk about D-Wade you talk about somebody that’s one of the guys that built this culture that we talk about,” guard Wayne Ellington said. “D-Wade, you give him the highest respect. Obviously, we’d all love a legend like him and All-NBA and Hall of Fame type guy to be around us and teach us how to win a championship.”
While players are allowed to lobby for Wade’s return, the organization is limited on what it can say until he clears waivers. Still, coach Erik Spoelstra reiterated what he has been saying since Wade decided to bolt Miami for Chicago 14 months ago.
“Everybody knows how I feel about Dwyane, how my relationship is with Dwyane,” Spoelstra said Monday. “Having worked together and grown close for 13 years, I love Dwyane. He’s a brother of mine. He’s a brother to a few guys in that locker room. He’s a brother to all of us in this organization. … But my focus is on this group. (Wade being bought out by the Bulls) that’s not even official. It can’t be a thought in my mind right now.”
Spoelstra went to say that decision will be made by president Pat Riley and GM Andy Elisburg.
Wade’s choice to return to the city in which he was raised did not turn into the fuzzy homecoming most expected. So after Wade picked up the second year of that contract for $23.8 million, he and Bulls agreed to a buyout in which he would give back about $8 million.
Now, the clock is ticking on Wade’s next decision. Will he return to Miami, join LeBron in Cleveland or possibly hook up with another team with championship aspirations like Oklahoma City or San Antonio? We will find out soon.