LeBron James and Dwyane Wade spent four seasons together with the Miami Heat, and the Cleveland Cavaliers were evidently interested in reuniting the two studs when Wade was an unrestricted free agent over the summer.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, James revealed why the Cavaliers weren’t able to lure Wade to Northeast Ohio before he inked a two-year, $47 million deal with the Chicago Bulls in July.
“We couldn’t afford him,” James said. “It’s that simple.”
The Cavaliers owed the league $54 million in luxury tax payments last season, and Wade would have had to take a significant pay cut in order to sign with the defending champions. Specifically, Cleveland only had the taxpayer mid-level exception of $3.5 million to offer.
To put that number in perspective, Wade will earn $23.2 million with the Bulls this season and $23.8 million the following year if he doesn’t decline the generous player option, according to Spotrac.
Financial restrictions may have made a possible Wade-James reunion a pipe dream, but Lue told reporters the team was interested in bringing the three-time champion aboard.
“Who wouldn’t be interested in a Hall of Famer?” he said. “That don’t even make sense. Yeah, we wanted him.”
As for the Cavaliers’ current shooting guard situation, the team has still yet to make a deliberation regarding J.R. Smith.
The sharpshooter is reportedly seeking a deal that pays out $15 million annually, per Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon, but the team has stuck to offering a contract somewhere in the $10 million to $11 million range thus far.
Ultimately, it would behoove both sides to end their stalemate and agree to terms.
Not only has Smith thrived as an outside complement to James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, who reaps the benefit of floor space created by those dynamic playmakers, but the Cavaliers were six points better per 100 offensive possessions with him on the floor last season.