I’ll admit that, in the middle of last week’s trade deadline insanity, I found myself bummed to hear Dwyane Wade was one of the players dealt by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Sure, I understood the move. It’s tough to root against Wade returning to the Miami Heat, a team he spent most of his career with. Additionally, if one of Cleveland’s biggest problems was looking old and slow on a nightly basis, moving the 36-year-old guard was a way to fix this.
Still, knowing how well Wade seemed to be doing with the Cavs, I initially found news of the trade bittersweet.
Then all the insider stories started popping up. Suddenly, we began hearing about issues Wade was causing within the locker room, problems significant enough to make the front office “ecstatic” when getting the chance to trade him.
I can’t help but feel confused when hearing this, as it seemed to come out of nowhere. It all forces you to wonder just what went wrong with Wade’s time in Cleveland.
On the surface, it shouldn’t be too surprising to hear Wade was divisive in the Cavs locker room, mainly due to how rocky his tenure there started.
Arriving just a couple weeks before the preseason started, the future Hall of Famer quickly started rubbing Cleveland teammates the wrong way. Wade was almost immediately inserted into the starting lineup, leaving some to grumble about how the team was trying to appease one of LeBron James‘ best friends. His opening few weeks were extremely ineffective, which hardly helped the cause.
However, things seemed to take a turn for the better when Wade accepted a new role of coming off the bench. Suddenly the reports of discontent decreased, all while Cleveland began thriving on the court. It appeared, at least at that time, the Cavs had found the perfect way to utilize Wade.
It all just makes the stories about the negative effect he was causing a bit more surprising.
Per Amico Hoops, Wade was causing significant damage within the locker room. He was apparently becoming notorious for unprofessional behavior which was sapping the team’s energy. Some even say Wade was the biggest problem with the Cavs, that he’d be checking Heat scores during halftime and just generally spacing out.
The reports of Wade’s behavior are jarring enough. What’s more shocking is that, during a season in which an alarming amount of information has leaked from Cleveland’s behind-the-scenes chaos, we didn’t hear about the problems Wade was causing until after he was traded.
Of course, this may be due to the fact Isaiah Thomas was busy grabbing all the headlines. Hell, even when we heard about Thomas calling out Kevin Love in Cleveland’s much-publicized team meeting last month, everyone just ran with it as more evidence the former Boston Celtic was the main problem. We all seemed quick to disregard the fact Wade was reportedly behind these accusations, as well.
The evidence supporting the idea he was causing problems behind the scenes was right there, yet we all just shifted our focus to Thomas. While he was hardly shy about slinging criticism left and right, Wade was doing quite a solid job of keeping the issues he was causing under wraps. This certainly helps explain why the latest stories on him seem to be catching many off guard.
What I don’t get, and perhaps never will, is the fact Wade isn’t an inexperienced player or one which doesn’t have a championship pedigree. He’s won three titles, and very much knows the difference between what can get you to the top of the mountain and what can hold you back. Why then would he be causing so much drama and negative energy within Cleveland’s locker room? Why would he be derailing the efforts of the team his close friend is trying to lead to another championship?
We don’t know the answers there, and likely never will. The Cavs have played exceedingly well since Wade was dealt, which certainly lends more credence to the idea trading him was necessary. All we can do is look forward, despite being tempted to look back and wonder caused his time with the team to go off the rails.
Casey Drottar is an independent sports writer. Subscribe to his podcast, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook