MILWAUKEE -- Fifteen years into his NBA career and turning 36 years old next month, Dwyane Wade knows he's fighting Father Time as much as any opponent this season. With all that wear and tear, Wade is more than OK with the "vet days" -- aka, planned rest -- the Cleveland Cavaliers have baked into the schedule for him this season.
"The good thing about being here, you get a lot of rest," Wade said Tuesday before contributing 14 points in the Cavs' 119-116 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. "I definitely enjoy taking a vet day. I'll have a couple more of those on the year and it will be good for me, it will be good for this team."
Wade, back in the city of his alma mater, Marquette University, was quick to point out that he used the Cavs' off day Monday to get a workout in at Marquette's facilities after sitting out two of the Cavs' past four games to rest his sore left knee. However, he's right about the sparse practice schedule for the team. Cleveland.com tallied the amount of practice time the Cavs have logged since reeling off 18 wins in their past 19 games as three days total -- and one of those days was primarily devoted to film, followed by a walk-through.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, responsible for managing the oldest roster in the league over an arduous 82-game slate, is not putting any pressure on Wade to perform unless he feels up to it physically.
"It's something [with] his knee that's been going on, and if he needs to take off then we understand that," Lue said. "We're not going to force him to play and be smart and what's the right thing for D-Wade. It's a long season, and we've got to make sure that he's healthy down the stretch. That's the most important thing."
What also will help mitigate wear and tear on Wade will be when the team is at full strength at the guard position.
The Cavs plan to have Thomas practice with their G League affiliate, the Canton Charge, as the All-Star point guard continues to ramp up toward a return, sources told ESPN.
The Cavs also have ultrarare back-to-back practices scheduled for Saturday in Cleveland and Sunday in San Francisco ahead of their NBA Finals rematch with the Golden State Warriors. It could be the first chance for Thomas to get in a full-court 5-on-5 practice since joining the team following a trade with the Boston Celtics in August.
In the meantime, Wade is averaging 11.3 points, 4.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds this season as the leader of the Cavs' second unit, Wade said he will pick and choose opportunities to rest his body as the season progresses. All three games Wade has missed so far this season have been because of his left knee, which has bothered him since college when he had meniscus removed after his sophomore season.
"Not really planned out," Wade said of the rest. "We're still getting to know each other with the whole [training] staff. We've had a lot of games early. A lot of every other day or back-to-backs. Now it's the time of the season where the training staff and everybody is starting to look at each player's bodies and kind of hearing their worries, concerns, etc., and now taking certain actions. We're just communicating and looking at the schedule and just see what's best. Obviously, I'm here for one reason, and that's to compete in June. And we want to make sure that that's possible and that happens for this team, and that I'm a big part of it. We'll try to be as smart as possible."
Wade played in 60 out of 82 games for the Chicago Bulls last season.
"It's hard for an athlete to be smart when it comes to not playing because we all want to play all the time," he said. "I thought the last game was a step in that direction. But you don't want to miss too much time either, because you don't want to get out of rhythm, and you like being a part out there. So we'll see."