After struggling for three games, Cleveland Cavalier’s Superstar Dwayne Wade asked to be moved to the reserves, giving JR Smith the starting slot at shooting guard.
Wade promised when he signed with the Cav’s that ego would not get in the way. He spoke the truth.
“I just decided, earlier than later, just to get to the unit where I’d be more comfortable in and can probably be better with this team in that lineup,” Wade said after Monday’s practice. “Why wait? Three games in, why wait? Wanted to get in there with those guys.”
Wade, who signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract with Cleveland in September, is averaging just 5.7 points and shooting 28 percent. That’s not Wade, and he quickly realized that he would better serve the Cavs as a reserve.
After Cleveland was hammered 114-93 on Saturday night by Orlando, which snapped a 17-game losing streak to the Cavs, Wade approached Lue with his idea to revamp the lineups.
“We talked about it before we got here, (that) it’d be a better fit with him coming off the bench,” Lue said. “I know he’d been a starter his whole career, so we wanted to try to start him and give him that nod. He came to me and said, ‘You know what coach? What you said was right. I’d be able to be featured more in the second unit and be able to handle the ball more, so let’s make that move and make that adjustment.”
The 35-year-old Wade has spent virtually his entire 15-year pro career as a starter, and as fate would have it, the 12-time All-Star will come off the bench on Tuesday night when the Cavs host the Bulls. Wade spent last season with his hometown team following 13 years in Miami, where he was teammates with LeBron James on four Heat teams that made the NBA Finals.
James expected Wade to go through an adjustment period.
“He’s in a good place,” James said of his close friend. “I think the first week, like he told y’all, was a long week for him just trying to adjust to a new system, adjust to what we’re trying to do. And I don’t think it’s just him. I mean, obviously he has the name but a lot of guys are trying to adjust as well.
“We’re trying to figure out, how can we help these guys get acclimated as quickly as possible? But this is a marathon. And he knows it. He’s been a part of it and it’s not a sprint. So, Week 2 is going to be much better than Week 1 for all of us.”