NBA Rumors: Dwyane Wade Says LeBron James’ ‘Ultimate Goal’ In 2017 Was To Join Lakers Via Free Agency

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Due to the fact that he’s played almost all of his career for the Miami Heat, it’s easy for many fans to forget that Dwyane Wade was briefly reunited with his old Heat teammate, LeBron James, for half a season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Wade now back in Miami and James playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, the 16-year NBA veteran looked back at his brief tenure with the Cavs during the 2017-18 season and recalled how LeBron already had plans to become a Laker at that point in time.

Wade’s comments about his situation in Cleveland were published on Saturday by the Athletic, as the 36-year-old shooting guard spoke to the publication’s Joe Vardon and recalled the factors that influenced him to sign with the Cavaliers ahead of the 2017-18 NBA season. This was where he recalled knowing as early as then that James was looking forward to wearing the Lakers’ purple and gold once he became a free agent in the summer of 2018.

“LeBron, first of all, he’s a guy who always plays his cards close to the vest, but I knew his ultimate goal was to be in Los Angeles,” Wade told Vardon, as quoted by Bleacher Report.

“He recruited me and he talked to me about signing [for the Cavaliers], and I said, ‘Listen, I know you might not be there long, you’re gonna be a free agent and there are some things that might happen, and we’ll have a conversation.’ I just thought I’d make it through the season first.”

As further cited by Bleacher Report, Wade would have preferred to remain with the Cavaliers for the entire 2017-18 campaign. While he did not question Cleveland’s decision to trade him to the Heat before that season’s trade deadline, he recalled being disappointed at not being able to play in the 2018 Finals, as that was the reason why he agreed to sign with the Cavs in the first place.

According to his Basketball-Reference player page, Dwyane Wade only lasted 46 games in a Cavs uniform, averaging 11.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists off the bench before he was sent to the Miami Heat for a 2024 second-round draft pick. The former fifth overall draft pick spent his first 13 seasons with the Heat, where he played in 12 All-Star Games and won three NBA championships, including two with LeBron James as his teammate. Currently, he is averaging 13.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.8 assists for Miami in a similar reserve role to the one he’s played since last season.

Though James and Wade are again playing for different teams, these two products of the historic NBA draft class of 2003 have remained friends and are still very supportive of each other, as evidenced when the Lakers beat the Heat, 108-105, in their first matchup of the 2017-18 season earlier this month.

“That’s just us,” James said, as quoted in an Associated Press report.

“Some people say you shouldn’t be friends with your competitors. But even with our friendship, we competed against each other and we pushed each other.”

For his part, Wade told reporters after that game that he expects the Lakers to win a championship with LeBron James leading the way, as his old friend has the ability to “make shots and take over a game” at any given time, per USA Today.