11:08am: Wade is nearing a commitment to sign with the Cavaliers, and could finalize his decision as soon as Wednesday, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).
10:29am: Dwyane Wade is strongly leaning toward signing with the Cavaliers when he becomes a free agent, and may in fact have already made the decision to join old friend LeBron James in Cleveland, league sources tell Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Wade is on track to clear waivers on Wednesday.
Although Wade is expected to receive interest from several other clubs, including the Spurs, Thunder, Heat, and Lakers, the Cavs have been cited as the frontrunner for his services since even before his buyout with the Bulls was finalized.
One prominent league source with knowledge of Wade’s thinking tells Vardon that the future Hall-of-Famer has “no intention of going anywhere else” besides Cleveland. Meanwhile, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times hears from a front office source in Chicago that the Bulls also anticipated Wade would ultimately land with James and the Cavaliers.
While the Cavs can’t offer as much money as the Heat, Lakers, or Spurs, Cleveland almost certainly offers Wade a better chance to compete for a title than any of those clubs, not to mention an opportunity for a reunion with James, his good friend and former teammate. The Thunder would be an intriguing destination for Wade, with Carmelo Anthony and Paul George reportedly recruiting the veteran guard, but Oklahoma City is limited to the minimum salary.
The Cavs will likely end up offering Wade the minimum as well. The team has about $2.55MM left on its taxpayer mid-level exception, but the difference between that figure and Wade’s minimum salary ($2.33MM) would be marginal. Additionally, the NBA would pick up part of the tab on a minimum salary deal, leaving only about $1.471MM on the Cavs’ books, which will be a key consideration as the team tries to keep its projected tax bill in check.
If the Cavs do sign Wade, they’ll have to trade or waive a player with a fully guaranteed contract before the regular season begins. Cleveland is currently carrying 15 such players, so adding Wade would take them over the opening-night limit.