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Wine & Gold Work Out, Prepare to Welcome Wade
Even though he got a run with his new teammates on Wednesday night in Independence, essentially the first day of the Dwyane Wade Era in Cleveland tips off on Friday – when he joins his new squad for good after spending Thursday back in Chicago taking care of some personal stuff.
Just looking across the practice floor – seeing which players were running with first and second teams – it’s immediately evident his year’s team is loaded with veteran talent. For the next few days and weeks the challenge will be what Coach Tyronn Lue will do with his embarrassment of riches.
His first task will be to figure out what to do with his overflowing 2-guard spot – now consisting of Wade and two players, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver, who’ve hit more triples over the last three seasons than anyone in the Eastern Conference.
”We have a plan in place,” said Lue following Thursday’s workout. “I’m not gonna say who’s gonna start as of right now. But we have a plan in place, we’ll see how it looks and we’ll go from there.”
The addition of Wade, however the coaching staff chooses to utilize him, gives the Wine & Gold myriad backcourt options, especially considering LeBron James’ point-forward skills and the pending return of Isaiah Thomas before the end of the calendar year.
”We have a lot of great players; we have a lot of versatile players,” continued Lue. “And I just think with D-Wade coming in, we add another dynamic player, who knows how to play the game, can pass, can dribble, a mid-range shooter. (We’re) just excited to have him. You don’t have to sell D-Wade.”
When asked how he’ll manage to keep all these accomplished veterans happy, Cleveland’s coach was characteristically succinct.
1 No real cause for concern, but LeBron James didn’t participate in Thursday afternoon’s practice after rolling his left ankle on Wednesday night. X-rays were negative and the four-time MVP is expected back on the floor at some point this week or weekend.
2 The player most directly affected by the Wade signing is J.R. Smith, who’s started 157 games since arriving in Cleveland two seasons ago. Smith has come off the bench for Cleveland and was the league’s top Sixth Man with the Knicks in 2013.
”It’s a coach’s decision, however it works out,” said Swish. “If anything, it makes us stronger, whether I come off the bench or he does or however it works. But I don’t really focus on it. This is my 14th year coming up and I’ve had a lot of B.S. in my past, so I don’t plan on bringing that to the Cavs.”
Smith is coming off a difficult season – both on and off the floor. But this year he came to Camp free of contract complications and with a clean bill of health.
“At the end of the day (starting) really doesn’t matter,” added the 32-year-old guard. “It matters who’s in there in the crunch. I’m not really going to focus on if I’m a starter or not. If coach needs me to start, I’ll start. If coach needs me to come off the bench, I’ll come off the bench. I’m gonna continue to work hard with my team and however they choose to do it, that’s what it’s gonna be.”
3 It’s early in Camp and where certain players fit is still a fluid situation, but with the Wine & Gold’s glut of 2-guards with the addition of Wade, the newly-shorn Iman Shumpert was working with point guards in drills on Thursday afternoon.
4 The final decision on D-Wade’s jersey number was made obvious when the rookie forward Cedi Osman – formerly No. 9 – took the floor on Wednesday sporting uniform No. 33 (although he will wear 16 during games).
5 Youngsters Osman and Ante Zizic got their first minor initiation after Wednesday’s practice, but it was an easy one – having to sing “Happy Birthday” to Jose Calderon (36) in front of the entire squad.