The NBA is filled to the brim with enormously talented reporters, analysts, and commentators. There is an abundance of media members with prolific knowledge of the game of basketball at the professional level. And most of the time, they predict what no one sees coming, and report the most unimaginable of leaked stories from their multitude of sources. But every now and then, they get a leak, and jump to ridiculous conclusions. Every now and then, they get it dead wrong.
Such is the case of the widely overblown reports of Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat at a contract negotiation standstill. The media has been quick to jump to the absurd conclusion that Wade is weighing opportunities from other teams. I’ll say it point blank:
Dwayne Wade will not leave the Miami Heat, and anybody who tells you otherwise doesn’t understand the NBA or the Miami Heat.
There is zero chance Wade bolts the Heat this summer in search of greener pastures, and the mere thought of it is laughable. As it stands, Wade plans to opt out of the one year (approximately 15 million dollars) remaining on his contract. He smartly is seeking greater security as the end of his career fast approaches. Wade should seek a three year contract that pays him about fifteen million per year. He understands that he is aging fast and a walking injury risk, and he knows that this is likely the highest his stock will be for the rest of his career. He’s one significant injury or myriad of little ones away from a rapid decline, and he should sign a contract that’ll take him into his retirement before that day comes. He by all means had a solid season this year, and should strike while the pan is still fairly hot. Plus Wade flat out needs the money… It is important to also look at this in a socio-economic point of view, as Wade just emerged from a lengthy and pricey divorce that sucked at his bank accounts. He needs to build back the wealth he previously had to ensure a bright life after basketball for both he and his kids.The problem is that if the Heat give him a fifteen million dollar per year range contract they could cripple their chances for another 2010-esque free agency coup in 2016 (uncoincidentally when Durant is on the market). So now as Wade plans to opt out for long term security, the Heat are left with poor options with his next contract.
Everything Pat Riley has done since the Lebron James took his headband elsewhere has been under the line of thought that they’ll make a run at forming another superteam in 2016. Riley wants Wade to opt in, Dragic to resign, and surround them with decent veterans at one year deals. Then he wants a solid performance this season with a playoff berth and a series or two won to show Miami is still a winning organization. Then he wants to lure another star to the Heat in the form of a Kevin Durant or like elite player while convincing Wade and Whiteside to return at only slight (the cap is soon to rise which will allow for more spending than ever before) discounts to compete for a title. That would create an improbably but planned superteam in 2016 with a starting five somewhat to effect of Dragic-Wade-Durant-Bosh-Whiteside (this would change if the Heat haul in a different star from Durant). But the idea of Wade getting now a three year fifty million dollar range contract throws a wrench in everything. That would ruin Miami’s flexibility to shake things up with superstars in free agency in ‘16, and thus compromise the Heat’s chances of legitimately competing for a title in the coming years. Riley is understandably hesitant to pony up, and back up a brinks truck to Wade’s house.
But here’s the thing Riley, Wade already has sacrificed enough for you. He took a huge discount in his prime (in his prime! that was literally unprecedented), and left mounds of cash and other opportunities on the table for better of the team. You can’t in good faith ask Wade to take another big discount, especially at a time when having the money is important to him. Wade deserves to get paid. He’s been a franchise guy and consummate professional for over a decade now, and he’s brought this team three titles singlehandedly (2006 by his play and the other two because of his attracting of other stars). Pay the man. He deserves it, he’s sacrificed everything for the franchise and brought it glory countless times. Pay him now. Yes, it’ll screw up our chances for a title in 2016 or 2017 a tad, but plans can be slightly altered. Give him a fair fifteen million a year contract for his last three years, and forget anything else.
But…. The Heat have all the leverage here, and while Riley is appreciative, he’s also notoriously diabolical. Wade can threaten to leave all he wants, but where’s he going to go? Not only is his value far less around the league than it is with the Heat, but there’s also no team for him to flee to. The reports of L.A.? The Lakers both suck, and have this other shooting guard named Kobe. The Clippers have no cap room. What about going home to Chicago? You honestly think if they’re going to pay up a shooting guard they’ll choose an aging, injury prone Wade over ascending star Jimmy Butler? Think again. Is there some title contending team that could entice him? Not really. The Spurs do have cap room, but they rarely deal for veterans like this and Wade is a poor scheme fit. Besides that, the field is barren. The media needs to stop saying Wade might leave. He has no place to go besides Miami.
The only question in this news story is what image Pat Riley wants for himself. He can pay up the greatest player in franchise history for his dutiful service, and thus create a tradition of paying franchise centerpieces no matter the circumstances. Or… He can be the Pat Riley we all know and love, and talk Wade into a steep discount for the opportunity of another title. Which will Riley and Wade choose? No one is quite sure yet, but we’ll let you know when we find out. Stay tuned.