Storyline: Dwyane Wade Free Agency

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Jimmy Butler told members of the Chicago media the choice to return for $23.8 million “is weighing” on Wade, who is out for the rest of the regular season because of an elbow injury. “I still think he’s got a lot more basketball left if you ask me,’’ Butler said last week. “I think everybody knows that I really like the guy as a person. He’s taught me so much on the floor, off the floor, but that’s his decision. You’ve always got to do what’s right and not only for him but for his family. But that choice is weighing on him because it is a player option. “I tell D, ‘You do what you have to do.’’’

That led to a text exchange with an NBA scout who responsibilities include attaching salary-cap value to players. Q: “Quick question: If Dwyane Wade were a free agent this summer, what is the maximum salary you think he could receive from a team for 2017-18?” A: “$20 million.” Q: “Still?” A: You said ‘max.’ More likely 12 to 15.” Q: “Do you think he will opt out?” A: “Interesting question. I say yes. At some point a few more million shouldn’t matter?”

While Heat fans might be hoping for a reunion this summer, it’s hard to imagine Miami offering anything close to the kind of guaranteed money Wade has on the table next season with the Bulls (he has a $23.8 million player option) if he decides to enter free agency. Although the Heat is expected to have roughly $39 million in cap space next season once it recoups the $25 million cap hit next season for Chris Bosh, Miami has several of its own players (Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Willie Reed) who are not under contract for next season and there’s a chance Pat Riley would prefer to keep those guys on the roster. That said, it’s clear there is still plenty of love between the Heat and Wade.

Ira Winderman: Let’s cut to the chase again with this. The only reason Dwyane Wade left was money, and what he perceived to be a lack of respect with the Heat’s contract offer in July. It had nothing to do with the Bulls’ playoff prospects or leading Chicago’s younger players. And while his efforts in the Chicago community absolutely are admirable and ongoing, that also was secondary to Pat Riley’s lack of participation in the process when it came to both entering the negotiations and acquiescing to an offer that Wade deemed commensurate with his contributions to the franchise. For all the quotes over the weekend indicating Dwyane’s frustration with the Bulls’ front office, there also were frustrations with the Heat’s front office. In fact, when you consider it, Dwyane would have been in an awkward position had he stayed and the Heat then moved forward with their approach with Chris Bosh, one of Dwyane’s closest friends.
1 month ago via ESPN

When asked if he felt the front office wanted him to return next season, thus picking up his option worth almost $24 million, Wade was noncommittal. “I don’t know,” Wade said. “I haven’t had that conversation about next season with the guys. I think we all understood when I came here I signed a two-year deal with a one-year [player] option. And both sides wanted it that way. And when that time came, no matter what the season or what teammates I had, it was going to be my option. I take my option seriously and I always look into what’s the best thing for me to do.
1 month ago via ESPN

As Dwyane Wade watches the Bulls’ front office try and figure out the direction it wants to go for the future, the 35-year-old says he just wants to focus on what he can control and leave the personnel decisions to the executives. “I just want to play basketball,” Wade said before Friday’s overtime 128-121 win over the Phoenix Suns, his first in two weeks after sitting out two games because of a bruised wrist and a third because of an illness and the injury. “And do my best job as a player that I can do. Then from there, let them look at me and my talent and what I did and let me look where the team’s at and on what I did this season and go from there.”

This summer Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul will both become free agents – and New York can create enough cap space to sign one of them – but the Knicks’ predicament has turned Anthony’s longstanding dream into the pipe variety. Unless he leaves New York. “I don’t know where that would be able to happen. It’s always a dream,” he said. “They’re all in the same boat I’m in. It’s hard to think about something else when Chris is going through his surgery and (Wade) is going through what they’re going through in Chicago. I think it’s hard to start thinking about that at this point right now. I think everybody just needs a break, everybody is waiting for the break to decompress and re-evaluate.”

3 months ago via ESPN

But after watching his team coast through parts of yet another loss, this time a 108-97 defeat at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, Wade brushed off the concern question, despite the fact the Bulls have lost five of their last seven games. “I’m not concerned,” Wade said. “I’ve been through everything; you might want to ask somebody else that. My 14th year, this is my first season here. I’m learning this team, learning these guys, so I’m fine. Obviously, it stings that what you see happen in the games you want to correct, but you got to go through the process, as we say. We’re learning how tough it is to win in this league, no matter if you’re on the road or at home.
4 months ago via ESPN

Wade, in his 14th season, didn’t rule out the possibility of playing with James again at some point in his career, but he made it very clear how happy he was to be in Chicago. “I never thought I would play with LeBron,” Wade said. “I didn’t think it was a possibility at all. I enjoyed the All-Star Games, I enjoyed the Olympics, but I never thought that we’d play together. That’s why now I look with younger guys and what they say and stuff like that because you never know what the future’s going to hold for you. Just keep your comments to yourself on the future. So I would keep my comments on myself for whatever. For me, I’m here and I’m happy to be here but I was happy in Miami as well. It just happened. And you never know what happens in this game. So people should never say never on anything.”

If the Miami Heat want to blame LeBron James for Dwyane Wade’s departure to Chicago, a case could be made over a piece of advice James and Chris Paul gave their friend while the three vacationed in Spain at the start of free agency. “The biggest thing that came back from both of them was follow your heart,” Wade said on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Sunday. “Whatever you want to do, we’re going to support. We’re your friends. But there’s a reason you’re having these thoughts. Follow your heart.” Wade left the only pro team he’d ever known in Miami to sign a two-year, $47 million deal with the Bulls last month as a free agent. He was looking for about $50 million from Miami and didn’t get it. The move followed a period of tense negotiations between Wade, 34, and the Heat, where he’d played his first 13 seasons and won three titles.

Haslem then referenced last summer’s free-agency controversy when center DeAndre Jordan agreed to sign a max deal with the Dallas Mavericks, but reneged after teammates Chris Paul and Blake Griffin convinced him to return to the Los Angeles Clippers. Haslem, 36, somberly joked that he should have considered a similar tactic to get Wade to come back to Miami. “In hindsight, I don’t know, I think I should have come in and pulled a Chris Paul and handcuffed him like they did DeAndre Jordan and made him change his mind,” Haslem said. “I don’t know if there was anything I could have done or should have done. But I felt like it could have been avoided. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t.”

The Miami HEAT will recognize Dwyane Wade’s unforgettable 13-year career tomorrow, July 8, via a series of activities. Throughout the day, all HEAT digital and social media platformswill feature Dwyane Wade photo galleries, graphics and videos, including “13 Moments” — a series of vignettes that pay homage to Wade’s remarkable Miami HEAT career. The MiamiMediaMesh, the 3,400 sq. ft. LED marquee on the exterior of the AmericanAirlines Arena will exclusively feature Wadeimages all day long. Full-page color ads featuring Wade and the iconic “This is My House” image will also be placed in the three major South Florida newspapers.

After being drafted by the Heat with the fifth overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, Wade spent the first 13 seasons of his career and won three NBA championships with the Heat. Hours after deciding to leave the only franchise he’s ever known, the 34-year-old was still trying to process it all. “It’s still surreal,” Wade said on the show. “I’m still numb. I’ve been in Miami 13 incredible years. To get a week to decide what you’re going to do, I didn’t get no sleep. I lost probably five to 10 pounds just not being able to eat.”

When Wade’s frustration became public for the second straight summer, the leaks were initially dismissed by many as the Heat and their most important player in franchise history doing the same old salsa dance with different merengue music. But those close to the situation recognized that this situation was different. Wade had lost all trust in the organization. His pride was wounded beyond repair. And, for all of Riley’s talk about loyalty, the NBA is a business and the Heat had limitations on how far they would go to keep Wade.

Riley was too raw to talk about it Wednesday night, but I asked him if he wanted to say anything about how he was feeling, and this is what he wrote by text: “SADDDDDDD!!!! SO saddddddd! I will never forget the sixth game in Dallas in 2006. DW rebounded the ball, and threw it to the heavens and the Heat universe was perfect for that moment. Our first world championship. Our universe is not perfect today. It will be fraught with anger, judgment, blame instead of THANK YOU!!! Ten years ago. Ten years older. Ten years wiser. Ten years changed. All of us.

Dwyane had a choice, and he made it. He went home. Bad, bad summer for us. But there will be another 10 years, and it will be someone or something else in 2026. Move on with no blood or tears. Just thanks. I truly loved Dwyane, but families grow, change and get on with another life. He will always be a part of us. ALWAYS! And no more bruises and enough fighting. Let’s just fly above it if we can and never forget. I feel his pain and pride for what pushed him over the ledge. Been there. Forever, for always, your coach I will be. FOREVER!”

“I started my NBA career with the Miami Heat in 2003 and it has been an honor to have played with them and help build a winning franchise with three NBA championships,” Wade wrote. “I look back with pride and amazement at all we have accomplished together. I want to express my gratitude to the Arison family, Pat Riley, Coach Erik Spoelstra, the coaching staff, and the entire Miami Heat organization. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the Miami community.”
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March 30, 2017 | 4:16 pm EDT Update
Ever since the Lakers hired Walton in the 2016 offseason after serving as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors for the previous two years, Walton said Buss has “been incredible” as she has offered support as they talked in person or via text message. “As a coaching staff, it’s really nice to hear and know,” Walton said. “We can do things that we feel are best for the team and not have to worry for now at least if we’re a part of that future. It’s very comforting to coach that way.”
“It’s a tough spot to be in with the people that hire you aren’t here anymore. Even before that happened, I always had a good relationship with her and have had random talks with her before any of that went down,” Walton said of Jeanie Buss. “She was great with the vision she had, what she saw and the way she sees things playing out. That made it a little easier even before we had official talks after all that stuff went down.”
March 30, 2017 | 3:13 pm EDT Update