NBA / May 14, 2010 / 10:00 am

Cleveland’s best post-LeBron Recovery Plan: Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade (Photo. Jeffery Salter)

It’s been coming for about three years, and now it’s here: The week where every sports writer in the world will write about LeBron James and what he’s going to do this summer. So you don’t need me to make another case for why ‘Bron should stay in Cleveland, go to Chicago, go to New York, or as I’ve heard he’s actually considering from sources close to the situation, take the mid-level exception for a one-year deal with San Antonio. (OK, I didn’t really hear that. But it was fun to imagine.)

Meanwhile, there’s one question I haven’t heard anyone ask: If LeBron does leave, what are the Cavs going to do with the money they would have spent on him?

Answer: Throw it all at Dwyane Wade.

Think about it. The Cavs won 60-plus games this year and made the conference semis with a roster constructed to revolve around one megastar. Whether you think D-Wade is the best, second-best or third-best player in the world, he is undoubtedly a megastar and by almost all accounts belongs in that top three. Would the Cavs be noticeably worse with D-Wade taking LeBron’s place? Not really. Would the Cavs be better with D-Wade? Possibly. Everybody is acting like the franchise and the city itself will die if LeBron leaves, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There doesn’t even have to be an immediate drop-off, so long as LeBron is replaced by another player of his caliber. And there happens to be one player of LeBron’s caliber available.

But it’s obvious why Cleveland would want D-Wade should they fail to keep LeBron at home. The tough part is convincing anybody why D-Wade would want Cleveland.

* For starters, because he can win a championship there. Wade hasn’t been past the first round of the playoffs since 2006, when Miami won its ‘chip. His recent losses haven’t been as spectacular as LeBron’s, but they’ve been just as frustrating, if not more. Wade is tired of losing. So he’ll look on paper and realize that top to bottom, No. 2 through No. 12, the Cavs are better than the Heat. If Wade leaves Jermaine O’Neal, Mike Beasley and Mario Chalmers behind and inherits Anderson Varejao, Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams, his chances of making it past the first round automatically improve. His chances of making it back to the NBA Finals become less fantasy and more reality.

* Cleveland is close to home. It’s not Wade’s hometown of Chicago, but on the private jet his new team will surely kick in to acquire, it’s just a short flight away from the fam.

* Cleveland offers just as much exposure as Miami. In case you haven’t noticed, when LeBron showed up, Cleveland became a big-market franchise. They’re on national TV every week, their merchandise moves units, and they’re a sellout draw on the road. If an A-List celebrity like Wade steps in to replace another A-List celebrity, the Cavs’ popularity isn’t going to drop. Technically, Cleveland doesn’t match Chicago or New York or Miami as a media market, but with a player like D-Wade, the media will follow him.

* Then there’s the concept of legacy. And make no mistake, legacy is important to athletes who are as good as Dwyane Wade. Diplomacy and humility plays well in interviews, but these are people who have reached the highest level of their sport because they’re confident in their ability and because they care about being the best. Even the “nice guys” possess at least a healthy cockiness and a strong competitive drive. D-Wade knows exactly where he finished in MVP voting this year. He knows that with each year his ’06 ring gets older, and as the early playoff exits pile up, his name is further distanced from Kobe and LeBron in the great “Who’s the best?” debate.

D-Wade also knows that if he were to take essentially the same Cavs squad to a championship — or at this point, just to an NBA Finals — that LeBron couldn’t, he vaults LeBron and is considered the best player in the world again. And the way he’s wired, that kind of thing matters to him.

Granted, I don’t think Wade is going to the Cavs. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s not. If Wade is going to go anywhere it’s to Chicago, but honestly I think he stays in Miami and works on convincing fellow All-Stars to join him in one of the NBA’s top destination cities. But like I’ve said before, this is all guesswork, even for us professional experts.

When I interviewed D-Wade for his Dime #54 cover story earlier this season, I asked where winning, money, location and mass appeal would rank on his list of priorities this summer.

“Well, winning is one,” he said. “There’s no question about it. Location might be number two. For me, mass appeal. And then money is last.”

The Cavs can win with D-Wade. They’re close enough to his hometown. He loses zero mass appeal there. And the franchise can pay him what he deserves. For what it’s worth, that sounds like all the right ingredients to crown a new king of Cleveland.

-Follow Austin on Twitter at @AustinBurton206
-Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag
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  • quest???

    yea, because we know that cleveland is well known for its beautiful beaches, gorgeous women and its exciting lifestyle.

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    AB sound like you was trying to convince yaself on that one lol.

    That is some fantasy island stuff. Ain’t nobody say in your top 5-10 trying to be in Cleveland if LeBron ain’t there. An 11-15 player prolly will being the star of the show.

    Plus honestly even if it is a slight upgrade (which to me it ain’t) D Wade would be crazy from jumping from one sinking ship to another. For all the reasons you really named he got that in Miami.

    If anything either Wade needs to go to play WITH LeBron if he stays or either convince Bosh or someone to meet him there in Cleveland or Miami.

    Still just go by himself ain’t really moving up, as it would just be perhaps stepping out of dog poop to duck poop. Still in poop either way.



  • fallinup

    Spike Lee doesn’t take kindly to this article AB. Not one bit. :)

  • SJ

    What do you think of Dirk on the Cavs in place of LeBron? I’d say it’s a pretty good fit, better than Wade on the Cavs.

  • RoyalistBoss

    Impossible this article is a waste of cyber text ..lol
    Cleveland is not an attractive city or place to play vs. Miami, Dallas, or any other place that may want DWADE..LOL

  • http://www.paxtonavenue.com DGtheEnigma

    Hey Dime:

    Don’t try to pull the wool over our eyes! This is National Beat-Up on LeBron Day. Don’t bring D-Wade, you know the grossly underrated shooting guard (yes, because he’s considered top-3 and is considered #3 is underrated), into this…

    D-Wade has a ring. He’s earned the right to have the world wondering what he’s going to do next. As for LeFraud, Dime there should have been a looooong essay written on what last night meant for the league for the next 10 years.

    Not to overreact, but it seems like because LBJ is the Dime/NBA poster boy, no one wants to ask the tough questions.

  • The Journeyman


    I’m soooo sorry Austin but as I was reading I was trying to imagine and picture what you wrote

    and then….

    you scroll to the comments and they all are soo true…the beaches and great lifestyle is one…the poop was another…

    and sadly…Wade and LeBron can both contribute to pay for Cleveland to become part of Canada since no one wants to be there


  • The Journeyman

    I know this isn’t right to say but it’s the truth…

    Cleveland has hurt a lot of people over the years…I mean a lot of people including myself have been hurt by this city

    It hurts my eyes to watch their professional sports teams play


  • control


  • Tbeezy

    2-12 the cavs might be better than the Heat, but the Heat can bring in another max player.

  • ay yo.

    That’s like sloppy seconds.

    Honestly, I don’t see them doing as well or any better than they did with Bron.

  • Harry Beeve

    Ahahahahahaha moron!!!

  • Diggity Dave

    This article it total garbage. I want my two minutes back.

  • hahns

    yeah…lets get it straight:

    no superstar is going/staying in cleaveland this year. if anyone was even thinking about it bron is going to talk some sense into them. why would anyone want to step into a non-championship situation that someone else just left???

  • sh!tfaced

    LOL. That’s cold, man. Giving false hope to Cleveland fans like that…

  • boomshakalaka

    What up AB, just wondering, but after one of you dudes writes an article, do you sometimes get everyone’s attention in the office first before you post it and say something like:

    “Hey, guys check out what I’m about to post on the site! There’s so much bullshit in this article it’s hilarious. I’m gonna make these guys go fucking apeshit man! LOL!!!!! Readers will get so mad it’ll make’em wanna slap they MOMMA!! HAHAHAHAHAHHAAA!!! Let’s see who can write an article that gets the most angry responses this month! Hehe.”

    just wondering if that’s possible. If so, you guys got an awesome sense of humor.

  • k

    Cleveland sucks (© Joakim noah)

  • http://www.designbydesmond.com My Favorite Superhero

    Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

    Bron goes to NY. Booz goes to NY.

    Wade stays in Miami (away from baby mama drama). Bosh goes to Miami

    Miami and NY in the conference finals. Ol’ School Style.

  • sh!tfaced

    All you gotta do is deliberately show a little weakness in grammar and they already go nuts…

  • Dre

    U actually took time out of life to write why Wade could live in Cleveland? Lol. Can I have your job? Aren’t they selling homes for $500 in that city?
    He gonna leave south beach and the glitz to go Ohio? Lol

  • mules

    Whether Lebron leaves or stays Cleveland’s first priority needs to be getting rid of Mike “the Celtics can’t keep up with us when we go small and run the break but I think I’ll slow it down and play Shaq and Z for a combined 42 minutes” Brown.

  • DaGood

    Apart from the fact that there’s no way Wade wants to play in Cleveland and risk having a 50 win season with Cavs aging squad… I actually don’t even think
    Cleveland won’t have the cap space: if they’re not signing their own player, they’ll have to pay double in luxury tax, no?

  • http://www.random-ish.com Scoob

    I posted this same scenario(well not in so many words) on facebook after the Cavs lost game 5. I said that if you Wade and LBJ switched places, the Cavs would win the chip. The difference between the two is that Wade always works on his game, adding something every year (see improved 3pt shooting). More importantly, he’s relentless. This is despite is supporting cast.

    Call me crazy, but LBJ packed it in early so that he could meet up with Jigga and B in NJ. He ain’t signing with the Knicks. Honestly speaking, I don’t want him to.

  • daghost

    ok, i don’t even know why i read this. AB i expected better out of you man. I know u have more knowledge than this! what’s the point of writing an article in which you ADMIT the likeliness of what u’re writing about will NEVER happen? DUDE, U RUNNIN IN CIRCLES WITH THIS ONE!!! get back on track man, you are a great writer.

    PS: wade has no interest in Cleveland. He knows that if he goes there, he’ll have to work as hard as bron did just to win a game. Now let’s talk about something serious…

  • len-e

    i seriously doubt he ment “close to home” by “location is number 2″

  • Ianny b

    Give me D-Wade anyday. i doubt he’s leaving South beach anyway.

  • AZ

    @ daghost

    pretty sure he work just as hard or more with his MIA squad

  • carl

    Austin, I don’t know what you are smoking, but can I have some?

  • deez

    DWade + Shaq will never happen…again.

  • MickdaMan

    LMAO i have to admit i read every comment on this article and you guys are fuckin hilarious i wish u guys were my friends….seriously some funny comments up there….And even tho i’m a biased heatfan4life, DWADE WILL DIE A MIAMI HEATA BABBBYYYY…so get over it

  • buffaloballa

    true, cleveland has the kind of “ladies” that dirk digs

  • ben

    I love you, wade .

  • JD

    Yeah that’ll be like Anderson Verajao’s nightmare come through muhahaha

  • C-Low

    how you gonna write for a basketball blog and not understand how the NBA’s salary cap works? Writer should be ashamed.

  • jimmyjack

    @C-Low — I don’t know what you’re talking about but the Cavs can afford a big star like D-Wade. With Shaq, LeBron, Zydrunas and Powe off the books they have $48 million committed, and I bet they can void Delonte’s $4.6 million when he gets convicted.

    That’s $43 million to work with. Cleveland paid out $84 million this year cause they thought they had a shot at a championship, so why wouldn’t they pay out $63 million (if you give Wade $20 million) to put together another championship caliber team?

  • Sports genius

    The Cavs would have enough money to get d-wade and keep LeBron. That is the ultimate goal. We do that and we win multiple championships.

  • http://kapatid77992yahoo.com lakerfan

    i read an article that asked wade what he thinks of teaming up with LBJ at cleavland and he laughd it off, there is no way he would go there. LBJ should stay with his home town team, cavs are gunna go broke in a few years if the king dosnt stick around. i feel bad for cavs fans. well i gues it was a good few years. but what i was thinkin plan B for cavs and i hope D.Ferry is reading this… get nowitski and amare, sign and trade LBJ for the 1st pick in the draft (cuz LBJ aint loyal anyways) and get JWall. and id love to see the cavs win it in 2011. and the wanna be kingLBJ when “the real king are with ringS” will be kicking himself for not staying loyal.

  • Robert

    LOL! I am from Cleveland and most of my family still living live there! I moved to Dallas in 1982 and although I love my family dearly, every time I go visit I am immediately reminded why I left! I have taken vacations to L.A. N.Y. and Miami — I don’t consider it a vacation when I go to Cleveland to visit family! I know I sound like I am hatin even if that is not my intention but, I feel sorry for Cleveland and it’s lack of attractiveness! I think the Nets is the most likely place where Lebron will end up. There are plenty of blogs out there explicating why. As for Wade to Cleveland — ain’t gonna happen!