Yesterday, I found myself having flashbacks to 2014. Vivid memories of flight tracking on Twitter or tattoo artists and bakeries breaking NBA free agency rumors came rushing back with a vengeance, once again involving a marquee player potentially joining the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As it was then, the player in question was coming from the Miami Heat. However, this time it was Dwyane Wade.
Yes, rumors of LeBron James‘ close friend joining the Cavs took over Twitter last night on a day where Kevin Durant turned the Golden State Warriors into the basketball version of the nWo. Fans were posting flight details of a plane traveling from Florida to Cleveland. Random kids in their parents’ basements were claiming they had sources confirming Wade was coming to the Cavs. Suddenly, the social media circus had returned to Northeast Ohio.
As of today, real, actual sports reporters were claiming Wade was indeed having preliminary talks with Cleveland. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst fueled the fire by claiming the Heat guard cancelled his meetings with a few other teams. Could it be that, somehow, the Cavs are about to add Wade to the fold?
As of now, nothing of substance has occurred. Well, unless you count the Cavs’ Twitter handle following Wade and his wife Gabrielle Union (many people do count this). That said, until something of note actually does occur, Cleveland signing Wade seems incredibly lofty.
Let’s say the two parties are indeed having substantial talks today. Under that assumption, here are a few guesses at some obvious topics of discussion:
– How is Cleveland going to afford Wade?
– Who is going to be moved off the Cavs to make room?
– Is James willing to consider a pay cut?
– How will the Cavs sell Wade on the idea of taking about $22 million less to come to Cleveland?
As you can see, there are a few sticking points which are tough to ignore here. Each one of them raises a huge hurdle to be cleared for this signing to become possible.
It’s no secret how cash-strapped Cleveland is right now. Already over the cap, still needing to re-sign James and J.R. Smith, there are minimal funds to work with. At the moment, all the Cavs can offer is a $3.5 million mid-level exception.
Now, if Wade wants to accept that, welcome aboard. That said, word is he’s seeking $50 million from Miami. If any normal and functioning human was weighing between $3.5 million a year or $25 million a year, it’s not difficult to assume which would seem more appealing.
Making things interesting is the apparent discord with Wade and the Heat. The relationship between player and team is quite strained now, leaving many to assume taking a minimal deal to join the Cavs would be an ultimate middle finger to Miami.
Sure, at the surface this makes a little sense. But is Wade really angry enough to accept such a steep pay cut?
He wouldn’t have to if James was willing to take a smaller deal. This is another caveat being tossed around by fans, but is another scenario you can almost guarantee won’t take place.
Nobody is going to argue James isn’t financially set for life and that he could afford to take a small deal to reunite with his friend. At the same time, I struggle to believe he’s OK not being fairly compensated when all these ludicrously enormous deals are being given to lesser players.
So, the only thing left is for Cleveland to clear cap space. For obvious reasons, this is a major risk.
A sign-and-trade of Iman Shumpert has been tossed around, as has letting Smith walk or moving Channing Frye. Combined, this could help the cause, sure, but it depletes the Cavs’ depth, removing three players to get one. Would it be worth it?
If Cleveland is OK with having only Richard Jefferson as a viable bench option, sure, it’s totally worth it. I’d like to think Cavs management sees the faults in that strategy, though.
But, hey, I watched Twitter explode last night and assumed there was nothing to any of these rumors in the first place. This morning, Wade apparently opened up talks with Cleveland. So, what do I know?
At the same time, there are so many stipulations the Cavs and Wade need to get around before this is even possible. While I can’t predict where I think the Heat star ends up, it’s still very difficult for me to believe Cleveland is the most likely destination.
That said, I’m more than willing to accept hearing “I told you so” from all of Twitter’s inside sources.