INDEPENDENCE: Even when they weren’t teammates, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade worked out and went on family vacations together.

Now they will try to win their third championship together.

Close friends since they met at a pre-draft camp in 2003, the two will be reunited Wednesday, when Wade clears waivers and signs a $2.3 million veteran’s minimum contract with the Cavaliers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wade and James played together with the Miami Heat from 2011-2014, went to four consecutive NBA Finals and won titles in 2012 and 2013.

A 12-time All-Star, Wade and his hometown Chicago Bulls reached agreement on a contract buyout Sunday, with Wade giving back $8 million of his $23.8 million salary for this season, according to Wojnarowski.

The Cavs had $2.5 million available to offer Wade, but the Cavs chose to go with the veteran minimum contract to lessen the tax hit.

Wade, 35, will join shooting guards J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver and Iman Shumpert, giving Cavs coach Tyronn Lue plenty to sort out before the regular-season opener Oct. 17. The Cavs also signed point guards Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon in free agency and traded disgruntled Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, expected to return from a hip injury by Jan. 1. In the frontcourt, the Cavs added Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic from the Celtics, and Jeff Green and Cedi Osman as free agents.

“I can’t speak about Dwyane, but there’s a challenge every year when you add new guys and add all the guys we added,” Lue said Tuesday. “But I’m up for the challenge and so are the players. We will figure it out. It will be a good year for us.”

During media day Monday, Smith was asked about the possible addition of Wade affecting his minutes on the wing, and wholeheartedly embraced the idea.

“As long as we win, I don’t care. If anything, it prolongs my career,” said Smith, 32 and starting his 14th season. “I don’t have to do as much, I don’t have to chase that many defenders around. Instead of me playing 18 years, I can get to 20, 21 years.”

James said Monday he might reach out to Wade, although they have talked all summer.

“I would love to have D-Wade a part of this team,” James said. “He brings another championship pedigree, championship DNA. He brings another player to the team who can get guys involved, can make plays and also has a great basketball mind.”

Cavs center Tristan Thompson was just as enthusiastic when asked about Wade after practice Tuesday at Cleveland Clinic Courts.

“Saw him this summer, he looks good, has been working out, shooting the ball really well. Hall of Fame. Really good player,” Thompson said. “I’m all for having more players, more depth, more dogs, guys that want to prove themselves. Definitely welcome him with open arms. If he does show up, I’ll tell him he’s late for media day, give him some s*** about that.”

Thompson believes Wade will be a great fit in the locker room.

“He’s a guy that’s proven, not just individually, but a team that won three championships,” Thompson said. “He’s pretty familiar with most of the guys on our team, whether playing against or playing with. I think he’s going to jell pretty well.

“He’s always been a good locker room guy. It would be great for our team to have another championship-mentality player on our team. It’s just more pieces to the puzzle.”

Wade’s acquisition will give the Cavs 16 players under guaranteed contracts. They have until Oct. 16 to get down to 15. With 20 players on the roster with Tuesday’s signing of rookie forward JaCorey Williams of Middle Tennessee State, they will have to make a move to clear a spot for Wade.

The Cavs practice twice on Wednesday with media availability in the morning, so Wade might not be introduced in Cleveland until Thursday.

Wade also reportedly considered the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat, with the Heat and Spurs having more money available to offer him. Wade might have found the lure of returning to Miami attractive, but he chose to pursue what would be his fourth NBA championship and his third with James.

Wade averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists last season for the Bulls, shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 31 percent from 3-point range. For his career, Wade has posted averages of 23.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists, shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 28.7 percent beyond the arc.

James has talked frequently about how the two bring out the best in each other, whether teammate or foe.

Wade’s statistics bear that out. In their four seasons together in Miami, Wade shot .500 or better from the field in three of those, the only times in his career he’s topped that mark, and shot .497 in the other season in 2012.

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.