INDEPENDENCE: In describing how he feels to be reunited with best friend Dwyane Wade, LeBron James came up with the perfect analogy, one filled with childlike joy and excitement.

Wade signed a $2.3 million veteran minimum contract with the Cavaliers after he cleared waivers Wednesday and James said he felt like a kid on the first day of school who enters his classroom uncertain of whom he’ll find there.

“When you walk in there and one of your best friends is in there, you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, this is going to be fun. It’s going to be a good class.’ That’s the type of feeling I got,” James said.

Close since they met at a pre-draft camp in 2003, James and Wade played together with the Miami Heat from 2010-14, reached four consecutive NBA Finals and won two championships.

In a news release, Wade said he is excited to join the Cavs.

“There’s no better place to be right now to continue to play and compete at the highest level. Cleveland believes in my talents and what I can bring to a championship contender both as a player and leader. I look forward to reuniting and playing alongside my brother LeBron. We’ve already won two championships together and I hope we win a third.”

Wade’s arrival in Cleveland may not fulfill the dream of vacationing Banana Boat buddies James, Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul one day playing together. But it’s good enough for James at the moment.

“I had a lot of hope of it,” James said of the four being NBA teammates. “Obviously, there was a lot of speculation throughout the summer with Melo possibly joining us. We’re blessed as a franchise to be able to have a player the caliber of D-Wade join us. It’s exciting.

“We always [thought] it would be an unbelievable opportunity if we all got an opportunity to play together. Obviously right now myself and D-Wade are back along with the rest of these guys. It should be a pretty dynamic piece.”

The New York Knicks traded Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday after the Cavs rebuffed the Knicks’ request for center Tristan Thompson, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The Los Angeles Clippers traded Paul to the Houston Rockets in a stunning move just before the start of free agency in July.

Asked if he was disappointed that Anthony did not join the Cavs, James said: “I mean, from a friend perspective, I wish he would have come and we could have worked some things out. But at the end of the day, I think our front office has done a great job. It worked out for the Thunder.

“I’ve been pretty much even-keeled this summer. I wish he would have been here. It would have been great to have him. I love Melo’s game. I love D-Wade’s game. I love CP’s game. You know how I feel about those three, but that doesn’t take anything away from what we got in that locker room, which is a lot. I look forward to continuing to grow with these guys, especially the new guys.”

The Cavs also added All-Star point guards Derrick Rose and Isaiah Thomas, slated to return from a hip injury by Jan. 1. The trade of Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Thomas also brought Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic and the Cavs also signed Jeff Green, Cedi Osman and Jose Calderon.

The Thunder, Heat and San Antonio Spurs were also reportedly pursuing Wade, a 12-time All-Star who reached a buyout agreement with his hometown Chicago Bulls, giving back $8 million of his $23.8 million salary for this season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Woj­narowski.

The Cavs released rookie forward JaCorey Williams, signed on Tuesday, to clear a roster spot for Wade.

Wade was at the Cleveland Clinic Courts and participated in Wednesday night’s practice. He will be handling personal business on Thursday and will be introduced to the media on Friday.

“I’m happy that we were able to keep him away from everybody else,” James said of Wade.

James said he never discussed this scenario with Wade when James returned home to Cleveland in the summer of 2014. Nor did he recruit Wade this time, saying most of that came from new General Manager Koby Altman and coach Tyronn Lue.

“I ain’t no selling,” James said. “Just tell him what we about here and how he can help our ballclub and how much we can benefit and how much he can benefit with us all being together. It wasn’t all me. It was also the front office, and I knew T-Lue talked to him about ways we can use him and utilize his ability. I just did my part.

“This is his business that he has to worry about in his career. There’s a lot of teams and a lot of guys reaching out to him. I couldn’t feel entitled just because I talk to him every day. I wanted to get him comfortable and let him know how he can help us and things of that nature. I guess it worked some.”

Altman said Wade is a player who can help the Cavs achieve success at the highest level.

“Dwyane has proven time and time again that he is a leader and competitor of the highest caliber and that his focus is centered on the ultimate goal,” Altman said in a news release. “The deep commitment and consistency that he has shown to the game as a 12-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Champion is remarkable and he’s going to be a difference maker on the court and in the locker room with our team.”

Lue will have to juggle minutes between shooting guards J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver and Wade. As of Wednesday morning, Lue said Smith was still the starting 2 guard, but Lue wouldn’t comment on Wade since the signing wasn’t yet official.

“You come into a situation where you want to win and your whole goal is to win a championship, everyone has to sacrifice,” Lue said. “There’s going to be a lot of guys at that position, which is a great problem to have. If we play the way we’re capable of playing, the minutes are going to be sporadic. It depends on who’s playing well, what’s going on. It’s going to be my job to make sure we get all the people clicking on all the right cylinders, the right rotations, the right combinations.”

James and Wade thrived during their four years together in Miami, with Wade having his only three seasons shooting .500 or better from the field during that span. Wade shot a career-low .434 percent last season in Chicago, but James believes Wade’s efficiency will climb with the Cavs.

“I think so, just because of the guys playing around him,” James said. “He doesn’t have to ever worry about seeing a double team. He doesn’t have to ever worry about taking tough shots. We have to make tough shots, but we don’t have to take them. We’ve got a lot of options. There should be a lot of guys getting open shots or just late-contested shots.

“Efficiency has always been a huge part of myself and D-Wade, and I know he didn’t like how he wasn’t as efficient as he can be or has been throughout his career last year.”

James isn’t sure of the key to his on-court relationship with Wade, but believes it is honesty.

“When you can be honest with somebody no matter what’s going on and your games translate, it works very easily,” James said. “He tells me when I F-up, and I tell him the same thing. We get on each other. We’ve always been like that, especially the four years that we played with one another and even before that when we just used to text. I watched his games and told him things he could’ve done better and vice versa. It’s just a brotherhood that we have.”

Some of the best moments during their Heat days came on alley-oops. Even though Wade is now 35 and James 32, James thinks they can still reach those heights.

“I’m still athletic. And I think he still can pass,” James said. “So expect it.”

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.