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Wade begins bench role for Cavs against Bulls

CLEVELAND -- Dwyane Wade wanted out of Chicago so he could play for a winner in the twilight of his career.

Wade, 35, realized Sunday that for him, in this season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, that means coming off the bench.

Wade's first game as a reserve with the Cavs is Tuesday against his old team, the Bulls.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Wade, a 12-time All-Star, asked him to go to the bench after three tough games as a starter.

"I just decided, earlier than later, just to get to the unit where I'd be more comfortable in and can probably be better with this team in that lineup," Wade said. "Why wait? Three games in, why wait? Wanted to get in there with those guys."

J.R Smith, the Cavs' starting shooting guard for the last three NBA Finals, replaces Wade.

Wade is averaging career lows in points (5.7 per game), shots (8.3 per game) and shooting percentage (.280).

He received a buyout worth about $16 million from the Bulls as training camps opened, and on Sept. 27 signed a one-year, $2.3 million contract with the Cavs.

Lue told Wade then that his best fit in Cleveland would be running the second unit, but the coach ultimately allowed Wade to start to see for himself where he can most help the Cavs (2-1). Wade found it hard to establish a rhythm as a scorer alongside LeBron James, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose and even Jae Crowder in the starting lineup.

"I just wanted to give him a chance because he'd been a starter his whole career," Lue said. "To watch him with that first unit, we see how it worked out, and he came to me and just said, 'What you said was right. It's a better fit for me in the second unit.'

"For a future Hall of Famer and a guy that's won three NBA championships to come to the coach and see what's best for the team, that's big time."

Rose (sprained left ankle) was ruled out for Cleveland's Tuesday game against the Bulls and Wednesday game against the Brooklyn Nets.

The rebuilding Bulls (0-2) are also depleted, with as many as five rotation players out because of injury or suspension.

Two of young players they acquired when trading away Jimmy Butler during the summer -- motivating Wade to seek and get a buyout -- are hurt. The rookie they acquired in that deal, Lauri Markkanen, is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds through two games.
Zach LaVine, one of the injured players the Bulls received from the Minnesota Timberwolves and the centerpiece of the Butler trade, is progressing from surgery to repair a torn ACL. He could be cleared for contact drills in two to three weeks, and his Bulls debut wouldn't be far behind.

LaVine had surgery on Valentine's Day. Kris Dunn, the other player in the Butler deal, remains out with a dislocated finger.

"I should be doing contact really soon. It all depends on them," LaVine said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "I'm pushing them as hard as I can. But at the end of the day, we still gotta be careful.

"I feel great. I'm going everything I was doing before. I'm pretty sure I can do contact. But we've got to stick to that schedule."

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said LaVine is "going to fit great into what we're doing as far as coming off of some live-ball screen actions."

"He's one of the fastest guys in the league," Hoiberg said, according to the Tribune. "His explosiveness, he's already gotten that back. And his ability to shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor puts another floor-spacer out there that you can do a lot with. So he does make our team a lot better."

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