Dwyane Wade is coming home.
The guard who helped lead Miami to three championships was traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Heat on Thursday, as first reported by ESPN and confirmed by a source.
The Heat acquired Wade in exchange for a heavily protected future second-round pick.
Whereas the Cavaliers were looking to get younger and more athletic, the Heat had three reasons to trade for Wade:
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• Miami needed help at shooting guard, with Dion Waiters out for the season and Tyler Johnson struggling.
• The price to get him was modest — a second round pick. He’s making only the $2.3 million league minimum, less than $1.1 million prorated for the remainder of the season.
• According to a source, the Heat wanted to end things the right way with Wade after he left the franchise in a contract dispute in the summer of 2016.
Wade, 36, is still effective; he is averaging 11.2 points on 45.5 percent shooting.
Heat players were stunned to learn of the trade after practice.
“Are you joking or are you for real?” Hassan Whiteside asked.
“D-Waaaaaaaaaaade! I definitely got more lobs when D-Wade was around. His IQ is amazing. I don’t know what we traded for him but come on back D-Wade. Great news for me. Great news in my eyes.”
Johnson said: “I couldn’t imagine us getting him back like this, but I’ll take a Hall of Famer. You know Wade County and all that. I think it’s going to help UD [Udonis Haslem] the most. He finally has another voice with someone who has won and played at the highest level.This is his franchise. Bringing him back is going to rejuvinate a lot of things. I think it’s an uplifting thing.”
Before last Wednesday’s Heat-Cavaliers game, Wade said he wanted to finish his career in a Heat uniform.
“I have thought about it of course,” Wade said when asked by the Miami Herald if he wanted to finish his career here either on the court or with a one-day contract. “I wouldn’t lie and say I haven’t. When that opportunity comes, that day comes, hopefully, I can go out in a Miami Heat jersey. I don’t know how it will be but I would love it.”
Wade said last week that “this team plays hard. They’re consistent with their game for the most part. That’s going to get them a lot of wins. I’m impressed with the guys, J-Rich [Josh Richardson] and taking that step to the next level. Tyler [Johnson], playing amazing. I’m happy for those guys. But I expect it. I expect those guys to play the way they are.”
On coach Erik Spoelstra, Wade said: “He never gets the credit. I’m not saying he’s looking for it. He didn’t get credit when we were winning championships and going to Finals. It’s not easy to have success in this league. Last year, everyone thought he should have been Coach of the Year for what he was able to do. For what they’re doing this year, he’s right back up there in that conversation. He’s a great coach. He’s one of the best in our game. Those players who play their whole career there one day will be happy to know they were coached by a great coach.”
The Heat drafted Wade with the fifth overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and he spent his first 13 seasons with the team, winning three NBA championships with the Heat before playing the 2016-17 season with Chicago and the first part of this season with Cleveland.
Earlier in the day, the Heat traded injured forward Okaro White to Atlanta for Luke Babbitt, whose 44 percent three-point shooting ranks fifth among all NBA players who have made at least 40 three-pointers. Miami was 31-24 with Babbitt as a starter last season.