Stepping into the role as the leader of the bench brigade was a new one for Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dwyane Wade. A starter all of his NBA career -- and the first three games of his stint in Cleveland -- Wade moved over to the bench and doing so has paid off swimmingly for the Cavs.
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He has drawn praise around the league for the new role and seems more than comfortable in it. And, it turns out, when star point guard Isaiah Thomas returns from the hip injury that has prevented him from playing this season, Wade wants to stay in the role he has. Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com has more on Wade's desire to maintain his bench spot:
Wade, who had one of his best games of the season Monday with 24 points and six rebounds in the Cavs' 113-91 win over Chicago, told cleveland.com that he did not want to rejoin the starting lineup when Isaiah Thomas becomes the starting point guard -- potentially leaving coach Tyronn Lue with one less option to find room in his rotation for Derrick Rose.
Lue has declined to say how he'll make all the pieces fit, including Rose, who reported to work Monday for the first time since leaving the team Nov. 22 to contemplate his basketball future. The Cavs have won 12 straight, so they're obviously rolling with cohesion among starters and reserves.
"I'm good where I'm at," Wade told cleveland.com. "The problem would only be worse when Isaiah comes back, because he's going to need his shots. Where I am now, it's working for me and for this team."
The team is also hoping to integrate guard Derrick Rose back into the mix soon. Rose left the team on a self-imposed separation but returned to the Cavs on Monday to resume rehab and treatment. A frustrated Rose had left the team on Nov. 22 to contemplate his future, but he's back and working toward a return to the floor. However there is no timetable as to when Rose may return to the court.
As Vardon notes, Rose could play alongside Wade with the second unit once Thomas returns. In all, Lue doesn't see figuring out a lineup mix for Wade, Rose and Thomas as a problem.
Lue was asked if Wade needed to be the point guard on the second unit to have the kind of success he's having, and he said: "Not really."
"There's still ways to get him the ball," Lue said. "Just coming off the second side, still running the same action, so he can handle or D Rose can handle. Not a problem."