Dwyane Wade has been a staple of Miami Heat basketball ever since he was drafted there back in 2003. Back when he was selected 5th overall in the infamous 2003 draft, some thought he wondered how good he would be. Well, a few years later, he has churned out a Hall Of Fame career and is closing in on retirement with each passing day. He has also been able to do something that many have not been able to do in their careers: stay in one place. Through the years, he has been very visible on the court for the Heat along with part of their community. The dynamic shooting guard has also been very unselfish as well, taking less money to help the team over the last five seasons. And to his credit, the team was able to bring in superstar forward LeBron James and perennial All-Star Chris Bosh to help make the team better. The results were four NBA Finals appearances in the first four years and two more NBA championships for Wade, adding to the title he won with Shaquille O’Neal in Miami in 2006. But after the fourth year and a disappointing loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, Wade, James and Bosh all decided to opt out of their current deals for new ones. In the summer of 2014, Wade agreed to a new deal worth $31.1 million over two years with a player option for the second year. Being that Wade had two years and $42 million left on his deal, Wade took a $5 million per year paycut to stay in Miami. And although LeBron James decided to go back home to Cleveland after four years in Miami, the Heat still had money to re-sign Chris Bosh to a max deal (5 years and $118 million) and LeBron James’ replacement, Luol Deng (2 years and $20 million with a player option for the second season). Unfortunately, taking less money did not work out for him or the team this time. Wade and the Heat missed the playoffs and were not as successful as some thought they would be. Of course, the absence of Bosh due to blood clots in his lungs for the second half of the season was a costly injury to their success, but the Heat were still fighting uphill to make the playoffs with him. During the season, the Heat traded for point guard Goran Dragic even though he was expected to be a free agent this offseason. And many though that he would be the one person to watch with this team this summer. Would they sign him or would he take a deal form another team? Well, all that talk about Dragic has been silenced by one Dwyane Tyrone Wade, Jr.
Recently, word began to matriculate out that Wade may opt out of his current deal with the Miami Heat. There are rumors out there that he wants to get paid more money in a longer-term deal. Well, apparently the Heat do not have the same feelings and in some circles, there are people that think the threat of Wade leaving Miami is real. Honestly, this would be something that many would not have seen coming. It was thought that he would retire a member of the Miami Heat and potentially land a job with the team in the front office. But this isn’t about loyalty this time. This is about business. Wade is 33 years old now. He is a veteran that knows time is limited in the NBA. Whether he values more money, winning or both are things that have yet to be answered by him at this point in his career, but it can be assumed he would like to win and get paid more at the same time. So, the question now falls on the Miami Heat and what they are willing to do. Do they pay him more money or do they let him walk? On one hand, they cannot let him walk. Like mentioned earlier, he is the face of Miami basketball and has made many sacrifices for the team over the years. The Heat could take a public relations hit if they let Wade walk considering all he has done. And if he walks, Dragic could potentially leave with him. That would leave the Heat with Chris Bosh and a bunch of players that are not prepared to step up in Wade and Dragic’s absence. And at that point, the Heat would probably either get players one-year deals in hopes of attracting Kevin Durant in the 2016 free agency class or they could take their shots at some free agents out there on the market this offseason. Either way, there is some decisions that Miami has to make and this season, they all hinge on the decision of Dwyane Wade and not LeBron James as it did last summer.
If Wade is to opt out and seriously go somewhere else, where would he go and get the money he wants? There are only a select few teams that have the deep pockets to pay him what he wants. One team that does have money to spend are the Los Angeles Lakers. But the thing that would hinder him going there would be one Kobe Bean Bryant. Wade and Bryant both play the same position and both are getting up there in age in their careers. This would be the most unlikely of scenarios for the Lakers and something that isn’t what they would want to begin with. The other team that has cap space this summer would be the New York Knicks. Of course that would mean he would leave to go play with Carmelo Anthony in New York. That combination and the Triangle offense would not necessarily be a good fit at all either. Melo is a scorer and needs the ball in his hands. Wade has gotten better playing off the ball, but that pairing would be mean that the Knicks are giving up on Tim Hardaway Jr. and that they are not going to take that money and sign a point guard and big man they need more than another shooting guard. There are surely other teams out there, but these two can offer Wade the most money to finish off his career. And for those that are thinking it already, there is little to no chance that the Cavaliers can bring Wade to Cleveland, pairing him with one of his best friends, LeBron James. The team is already over the cap for this season and they have their own decision to wait on from Kevin Love amongst other things to figure out in their offseason. And there is also the chance that LeBron James could opt out of his deal as well, making him a free agent again. The situation with James is unlikely being that the cap goes up in the summer of 2016 and that would position him to be paid in the neighborhood of $30 million per season, but there were many that thought he would never leave Cleveland in the summer of 2010 and that happened. Many things are on the table for Wade at this time, but thinking that he will get more money from another team this summer is something that is not very realistic when looking at the entire picture.
The battle between Wade and the Miami Heat has begun. One wants more and the other wants to keep building towards contention. In this battle of the face of the team versus the team, it should be interesting to see who comes out on top. But be for sure Dwyane Wade saw the contract extension Kobe signed with the Lakers for two years and $48.5 million. He envisions himself as second to Kobe at the shooting guard position, so we can guess he feels he should get something near that amount of money. Which side blinks first on this one will be something to watch going forward.