Thursday morning, the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Dwyane Wade to the Miami Heat in exchange for a protected second round pick.

After spending the first 13 years of his career in Miami, where he won three championships, the trade represents a homecoming of sorts for Wade. It's also a move that he apparently didn't see coming. In an interview with the Associated Press Thursday evening, Wade explained that he thought he would eventually return to the Heat—but he assumed it would happen through a free-agent deal this summer. "I felt like that’s the only other place I can be," he said.

"I always felt that one day it would happen,” Wade continued. "For me, it’s always been a hope. You just don’t know how or when you’re going to get there."

Averaging a career-low 23 minutes and 11 points per game in Cleveland this year, Wade's role had been smaller than anything he'd seen in his career up to this point. Eager to play in front of a Miami crowd again, Wade tells AP that he plans to make his return to the Heat on Friday night when they take on the Milwaukee Bucks. 

"I’ve missed them and I know they’ve missed me," Wade said.

The Miami Heat currently sit at seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 29-26. Speaking on their situation, Wade said, "This is definitely a playoff team. This is a team that a lot of teams around the NBA respect because of the way that they play the game." Expected to come off the bench, he added, "Don’t matter. I can’t wait to embrace whatever role I have."

Shortly after the trade went down, longtime teammate and friend LeBron James took to Instagram to share positive thoughts on the situation: "Truly happy for my brother Dwyane Wade!! It’s how it’s suppose to be. Love you my guy!!" You can see his post below.

You can also watch Wade's message to Heat Nation below.