Since Dwyane Wade did the unimaginable and left the Miami Heat, we’ve been hearing a lot from the head of basketball operations at the franchise, Pat Riley, who sad, tragic and heartbreaking this all ordeal is. The truth? Riley never intended for Wade to stay.
In his most recent comments about Wade leaving the Heat to his hometown Chicago Bulls in free agency, Riley lamented his part in the failure to retain Wade, saying he’s floored, admitting he wasn’t involved enough in the negotiations, saying he and Wade still haven’t spoken since Wade left in free agency, and that his intention all along was to give Wade the money he deserves, although making sure it doesn’t hurt the team.
And that’s the key thing to take from everything Riley said. Speaking about how he’s feeling, and how he should have done more, seems like lip service. But his main point in the news conference was about his vision for the Heat. And reading between the lines, it seems like Wade’s demands were interrupting that vision.
My thoughts were always to try to make the team better and at the same time try to make sure that Dwyane, over the course of the three, four, five years that he had left in his career, that he was going to get his money. He would get it — but not at the expense of paralyzing our ability to win. If there’s anything I could have done better, I would have done it. But right now, there’s no do-overs in this thing.
In short: Miami were worried about re-signing Hassan Whiteside and Kevin Durant, while leaving Wade, the greatest athlete in the history of the city, for last. Maybe it is just business and the cold, basketball and financial calculations made Wade slightly redundant, or of lesser priority in the developing situation. In any case, the Heat were more than willing to live with the fact that Wade wasn’t going to sign with them. If it was that important to Riley, he would have been more involved. If it had been that important to him that Wade gets money he has given up in the past, he’d had offered him more than $40 million over two years. Wade signed with the Bulls on a two-year, $47 million contract.
It wasn’t just about money. It’s reported the initial offer Wade got from the Heat was for one year and $10 million. Insulting? Wade thought so, and although he did meet with the Heat again before making his final decision, seeing the team go hard after Whiteside and Durant while lowballing and ignoring him, helped him make up his mind and leave. He turned down more money from the Denver Nuggets ($52 million, two years) to sign with the Bulls.
This takes us back to 2014, when LeBron James, after four years, four finals and two championships, left the Miami Heat. Rumors suggest Pat Riley took LeBron staying for granted, and gave him the wrong kind of pitch when the two met in free agency negotiations, which helped James go in a different direction and choose the Cleveland Cavaliers. In Wade’s case, Riley didn’t misread the situation. He simply didn’t want to bring him back, and is now trying to make it seem like it’s all just a matter of unfortunate events and decisions.