Sources: Cavs emerge as leading Wade suitor

The Cleveland Cavaliers have emerged as a clear favorite to land newly minted free agent Dwyane Wade, after he agreed to a buyout agreement with the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, sources told ESPN.com.

Wade agreed to leave about $ 8 million of his $ 23.8 million salary on the table after talks between the two sides about a resolution intensified ahead of Monday’s start of training camp.

Wade has a long-standing relationship with LeBron James, who attempted to recruit Wade to Cleveland last summer, but the Cavs didn’t have salary-cap space at the time. James and Wade have kept in touch this summer about Wade’s options, sources said.

In addition to the Cavs, the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are contenders for Wade once his buyout becomes official, sources said. Wade also has a close relationship with Carmelo Anthony, who will officially become a member of the Thunder on Monday.

Wade, speaking to AP on Sunday night, indicated he may decide his next move quickly.

“I’m going to take tonight and some of tomorrow and speak to the teams or players that are on my list and go from there,” Wade said. “My decision is a pure basketball decision and I’ll make the one that fits me best at this point in my career, and with what I feel I have to offer a team that needs what I have to offer.”

He also also tweeted his thanks to Chicago and its fans.

Last week, Heat president Pat Riley hinted at the team’s desire to bring Wade back: “Anything that happens from a personnel standpoint down the road, or any opportunities that are there, we’re always going to approach that,” Riley said about Wade.

Among Wade’s expected suitors, the Heat currently would have the most money available to offer at $ 4.2 million. The Spurs have $ 3.3 million, and the Cavs have $ 2.5 million. The Thunder could only offer the minimum salary, which is $ 2.3 million. It would be most costly for the Cavs, as they would pay $ 10.5 million in luxury tax if they added Wade.

The Bulls were motivated to work out a deal with Wade as they begin a rebuilding phase. The team signaled a shift when trading away Jimmy Butler in June and then elected not to re-sign Rajon Rondo.

Chicago had reason to still give Wade roughly $ 15 million of his salary for the season, as they are still below the mandated salary floor. Earlier Sunday, the team agreed to a new contract with free agent Nikola Mirotic.

Wade averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 60 games last season.

Front office insider Bobby Marks contributed to this article.

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