Dwyane Wade's triumphant return to his hometown is already over. Wade and the Bulls agreed to a buyout last night, meaning he is now free to sign with any NBA team. Even though D-Wade is now 35 years old, he's still moving the needle around the NBA. Teams such as Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Milwaukee, and Miami are all reportedly interested in signing him on the eve of training camp, but the consensus seems to be that Wade is leaning toward a reunion with LeBron James in Cleveland.
That would be a massive mistake. Why would Wade choose Cleveland over a homecoming in Miami or a chance to be more appreciated in Oklahoma City? Choosing the Cavs would only compound the error he made last season when he left the Heat for about $7 million more from the Bulls — about the same amount he'll give back this week to get the hell out of the Windy City.
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Cleveland owes Dwyane Wade nothing. If he thought Bulls fans were indifferent to his arrival, wait until he hears the boos from Cavaliers fans who aren't satisfied with his level of play on back-to-back games in December. They will be unforgiving because Wade is a guest in their home. They'll forget the name on the back of his jersey very fast when they realize he isn't a 28-year-old superstar anymore.
But there's a bigger problem with the idea of Wade going to Cleveland: He's a terrible fit, not only for that team's roster but also in a direct matchup with the Cavs' biggest obstacle to a championship. There's only one way to beat the Golden State Warriors, and that's with defense and three-point shooting. Those are the exact two areas where Wade is a huge liability at this point in his career. YouTube highlights from the 2012 Heat season won't help the Cavs come June. They'll eventually learn that a team with Wade off the court gives them their best shot at a win.
A detour to Cleveland would not be worth the trouble for Wade. A one-year stay on what should be an interesting Oklahoma City Thunder team makes much more sense. Ending his career playing for Gregg Popovich, a coach accustomed to prolonging veteran players' careers and treating the situation with respect, makes much more sense. And a homecoming to Miami, a city that unconditionally loves him, certainly makes more sense than Cleveland.
Wade shouldn't chase the ghost of his 2012 self in Cleveland. He won't find it. All he'll find is disappointment and more snow.