Dion Waiters was en route to Los Angeles last month for a weeklong workout session with pro basketball trainer Rob McClanaghan, an annual West Coast trip that had become as much a part of Waiters' offseason routine as the trade rumors that always seem to include his name, when his cellphone buzzed. He answered it.

"Be ready," LeBron James told him.

James had not yet announced that he had decided to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. So he was coy in his brief conversation with Waiters, who grew up in South Philadelphia and has been the Cavs' starting shooting guard since they drafted him fourth overall out of Syracuse in 2012. "He never gave me a clear-cut answer," Waiters said, but then, he didn't need to.

Last year and this year, speculation swirled that the 76ers had a particular interest in Waiters and wanted to acquire him - first for Evan Turner, then in the Thaddeus Young trade that general manager Sam Hinkie just completed. Yet Hinkie said in a conference call Tuesday that "there weren't any discussions" regarding Waiters, and besides, those two words from James were enough for Waiters to understand that his days of wondering when the Cavs would build a winner and whether he would still be with them when they did were over.

"I'm still where I am, right?" Waiters, who averaged 15.3 points a game over his first two seasons in Cleveland, said in an interview last week after working out at the Competitive Edge Sports complex in King of Prussia. "You can't listen to everything that's out there. I'd say 10 percent is always true. Ninety percent is not. I've been traded for three years now.

"I hate losing, and a guy like [James], who's probably the best player in the world right now, is someone I can learn from. I can grow. I still haven't reached my peak. Now with a guy like that, he can open up the floor for you and give you a lot of opportunities."

At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Waiters is virtually a physical clone of Dwyane Wade, and at 22, Waiters has the advantage of being 10 years younger than Wade, too - details that weren't likely to have escaped James' attention as he weighed whether to re-sign with the Miami Heat or come back to Cleveland. Their styles of play are similar enough that Waiters already has spent hours reviewing tape of Wade, studying how Wade molded his game to accommodate James over the pair's four seasons together in Miami.