One interesting situation developing in free agency is that of Dwyane Wade, who seems to be either playing negotiation tricks with the Miami Heat, or actually interested in leaving them, with the Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets or the Dallas Mavericks waiting for him to leave South Beach for the first time in his career.
In what is turning out to be an annual tradition, Wade gets lowballed by the Heat, sends out feelers to other teams through his agent, and then goes back to the Heat, and gets the kind of contract he was aiming for. This season doesn’t seem too different: Reports suggest the Heat, more focused on keeping Hassan Whiteside and adding Kevin Durant (kept Whiteside, Durant seems to be heading elsewhere, or simply staying put), offered Wade only $10 million a season.
Despite making $20 million last season, Wade feels that he’s always been giving the Heat a hometown discount, enabling them to add players, even after the big three dissolved. Chris Bosh was the one who got the five-year, max contract. Wade, who had knee issues at the time, took the smaller deal ($15 million, in 2014-2015, $20 million last season). Now Bosh is the one who has the health issues (blood clots, potential retirement) and Wade might be rid of the knee problems that plagued him for about three or four years.
Coming off a good season, averaging 19 points and missing only 8 games (last time he played so much was in the 2010-2011 season), Wade is on vacation in Europe. He’s supposed to come back and then finish things. The Bucks don’t have the cap space to give him what he wants, but they’re trying to trade Greg Monroe, a signing they’re very regretful of. The Dallas Mavericks have a lot of cap space (won’t have if Harrison Barnes signs for them) and so do the Nuggets, but is Wade after contending, money, or simply showing Miami he isn’t bluffing?
After 13 seasons with the Heat, it’s always difficult to imagine Wade playing for someone else. But the three-time NBA champion might be fed up with taking what he sees as pay cuts for the good of the team while teammates around him are being showered with max contracts. With three title rings, maybe the lure of building a champion in Miami again isn’t that great for Wade, and simply making the most of his career in terms of earning stands on the top of his to-do list.
Maybe going home is more important: Wade played his college basketball in Marquette (Milwaukee) and grew up in Chicago, playing his high school basketball in Oak Lawn. There have been mentions of the Bulls and Knicks offering Wade to join them, but it doesn’t seem to work out financially, and they’re out of the race. One team that keeps showing up are the Cavaliers, which means Wade re-teaming up with LeBron James, although it looks like quite the difficult deal to make, probably too complicated.