Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue isn’t offering much when it comes to his plans for Dwyane Wade.
When asked whether Wade would start — something he has done in all but 11 games of his exceptional 14-year career — Lue only said that there was a plan in place. Moments later, when asked about a timeline for naming a starter, Lue facetiously asked when reporters would like an answer before walking away from the media session with a smile.
As training camp continues and the Cavs learn more about their newest addition, Wade’s on-court role remains one of the biggest questions — even if it’s something he doesn’t seem to care about.
“Me and Ty just talked about role,” Wade said Friday. “We didn’t talk about starting or nothing like that. We just talked about what my role can be and pretty much what I’ve always done. I’m not focusing on starting at the 2. I’m not focusing on anything. I’m just focused on coming in here, learning the offense, continuing to be one of the guys and figure that Ty, he will figure everything out. It’s everybody’s job that has on a Cleveland jersey to be ready and prepare for whatever he decides.”
Early on, it appears Lue is contemplating Wade as the second unit anchor. In Wade’s first practice Wednesday night, he was playing backup point guard alongside Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, Jeff Green and Tristan Thompson. On Friday morning — after missing Thursday’s practices because of personal business — Wade was back in that same role, running the second team.
“Just his poise, getting guys shots,” Lue said when asked what stands out about Wade. “Never gets sped up no matter how crazy the game may be, pressing or whatever they’re doing, he’s always under control and seems to make the right play every time.”
Those certainly seem to be qualities any coach is looking for with a backup point guard. And the Cavs have an opening there.
The original idea was to have free agent addition Derrick Rose in that spot. Then came the Kyrie Irving trade and with Isaiah Thomas sidelined until the end of this calendar year, Rose has moved into the starting group.
The Cavs also signed Jose Calderon, but at 36, after bouncing around the NBA the last few years, it’s fair to wonder if Calderon would be ready for that workload — or if he will stay on the roster long enough, as the Cavs still have one more roster move to make.
Wade would be a nice Plan B. Still, it’s always tricky to start reading too much into early training camp storylines.
This is the time of year when Tristan Thompson added a midrange jumper to his offensive arsenal. It’s when Jordan McRae was talked of having “Jamal Crawford traits.” When Iman Shumpert had worked on his handle all summer to fill an open backup point guard spot. Then the regular season tipped off and it was all a mirage.
Will it be different with Wade? Is the term “playmaker,” one that every player has used when describing Wade, a clue? Or is it just lip service?
The boon for the Cavs is in Wade’s versatility. Despite being looked at as one of the best 2-guards in NBA history and holding down that spot for the majority of his career, he has always been willing to adjust.
“I haven’t been where I have to score every time down in a long time,” Wade said. “I’m a ‘pick your spot’ type of player. When I have the ball in my hand, I’m always a playmaker. I’m always dangerous to make plays and I’ve scored over 20,000-some points in my career so I can still put the ball in the basket.
“I can attack on the block. I’m a great pick-and-roll player from a scoring and passing standpoint and when they need me to make sure I stay in that corner somewhere and stay there and let ‘Bron do his thing and be ready to shoot it, I got to knock shots down. I’m not J.R. Smith, I’m not Kyle Korver. I’m never going to be those guys. But I want to do better than I did last year. Last year I shot 31 (percent) or whatever. I want to shoot a couple more percentages higher this year. Just being ready to shoot. Whatever the team needs, you want to be able to do.”