CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – For the first time in his career, Dwyane Wade will primarily be a bench player. It was by his own design.
Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue announced after practice on Monday that Wade approached him to talk about a change in role. The pair had spoken about a potential change prior to Wade signing in Cleveland, but the decision was made initially to let the 35-year old stay in the role he had played his entire career.
JR Smith will reclaim his starting shooting guard role.
“We had a talk about it after the game the other day, and we talked about it before he got here, it would be a better fit with him coming off of the bench,” Lue said. “I know he has been a starter his entire career, so we wanted to try to start him and get him that nod and he came to me and said ‘You know what, coach, what you said was right.’”
Wade has come off of the bench in 11 regular season games in his career. In three starts to start 2017, the first-year Cavalier was 7-of-25 from the field in 23.7 minutes.
Lue said that de facto point guard Derrick Rose will no longer run the second unit when he returns from his sprained ankle, which will keep him out at least through Wednesday. The second team will now belong to Wade, who does not mesh well with Rose due to the pair’s combined lack of long-range shooting prowess.
That decision will only further be complicated when injured All-NBA 2nd-Teamer Isaiah Thomas returns in the winter.
“We’ve got to start all over again, but it’s OK,” Lue added. “It’s early in the season and this is what it’s all about, trying to figure it out and understand who plays best with who, and what lineups do. It’s another step in another direction, but I like it.”
For Wade, his decision to make the call himself was about timing.
“I decided earlier than later just to get to the unit where I would be more comfortable in and probably be better with this team in that lineup,” he said. “Why wait? Three games in, why wait? I wanted to get in there with those guys.”
Lue’s effectiveness as Cavs coach is largely dependent on his ability to handle the egos of a star-laden roster. Wade is proven as a win-first player, though at the same time, has plenty of pride as a future hall of famer.
The decision to let Wade continue in his familiar role was a savvy move on Lue’s part. If LeBron James’ best friend was successful in his role despite the feeling that it would not come to fruition, then great. If not, the coach makes the move with Wade happy to do so.
Wade seemed more than happy, given it was his decision.
“I came here for one reason. I didn’t come here to shoot 20 shots or average 20 points,” Wade said. “I came here to be a part of winning and to bring what I can to this team, and I want to do that.”