(Reuters) Dwyane Wade returned to the Miami Heat ysterday in what is expected to be a joyous reunion for players and fans alike.
Heat apparel received a spike of nearly 500 percent on Thursday when the Heat officially announced Wade had been acquired for a protected second-round pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I’m happy as hell for D-Wade,” said LeBron James, Wade’s teammate with the Cavaliers and previously during a joint run in Miami. “He gets to go back home. That’s how it should be. I’ve always felt that’s where his heart and his mind was. I think it’s going to be great for him. It wasn’t tough (for James). We’re both 15 years in the league. We know how this business is. But more important, we know we see each other all the time anyway, so, ‘get out of here, D-Wade.’”
Wade signed a one-year deal with the Cavaliers after a buyout with the Chicago Bulls. Wade spent last season with the Bulls and was coming off the bench with the Cavs in a role that become more limited in recent weeks.
Heat president Pat Riley said the opportunity to acquire Wade was relatively last-minute.
Cleveland made three trades involving four teams on Thursday.
With Dion Waiters injured, Riley said the Heat looked at adding a “front-line player,” but the cost was prohibitive. When Cleveland made Wade available, Riley made only one offer — a protected second-round draft pick.
“All of us have to realize he’s not the Dwyane Wade of 2006 against Dallas but he’s a facsimile of that,” Riley said. “The fact that he decided to come off the bench in Cleveland limited his opportunities to do certain things he’s always been capable of doing. I would imagine he would morph right into the role of being a frontline scorer for us. He can still play. A defender on the ball in need situations. He’s the 12th best two-way guard in the league [in Heat rankings]. In the contemporary plus-minus analytics, he’s 15th/16th. Getting to the rim, getting to the free-throw line. There’s something about Dwyane at the end of games I think is unique and special. I don’t think you lose that.”
Wade and Riley reportedly patched up their relationship only last week. Two years ago as Wade entered free agency, he wound up in Chicago after what he felt was a substandard offer from Riley. In Wade’s opinion, the Heat felt Wade could be the face of the franchise but not necessarily carry a team at age 34. Now 36, Wade and Riley were able to get over past emotional bruises and move forward.
“I think you’re correct on that. For all of you who know me, warriors don’t live in the past. Life is now,” Riley said. “And the future is waiting. Based on what happened with Dwyane and us the last couple of years, there’s no bitterness and no regrets. We’ve always talked about that. (Heat owner) Micky (Arison) is very pro Dwyane. Coach (Erik Spoelstra) is very pro Dwyane. I am. It was a sad day when Dwyane left and it’s a beautiful day that he’s back.”