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Hassan Whiteside: One last dance with my bro @dwyanewade!
Retirement can wait at least one more year for Dwyane Wade. Wade is coming back to the Miami Heat, announcing Sunday that he’s returning for a 16th and final NBA season. He basically spent the entirety of the last four months weighing his options, and retirement was an extremely real possibility in his mind. Instead, he’ll be back in Miami, as the Heat desperately hoped. He’s expected to sign a $2.4 million, one-year deal later this week.
“I’ve always did things my way,” Wade said in an emotional social-media video that he taped Sunday afternoon and released in the evening. “Whether they’ve good or whether they’ve been bad, I got here because I’ve done things the way I feel is right for me and right for my family. And what I feel is right … I feel it’s right to ask you guys to join me for one last dance, for one last season. “This is it. I’ve given this game everything that I have, and I’m happy about that, and I’m going to give it for one last season.”
It was hardly a guarantee that Wade, a 22.5-point scorer for his career, would return. His decision took months longer than some expected, partly because he was deciding what he wanted to do, partly because he was dealing with some personal business and some family business, and partly because it took him and the Heat some time to figure out what made sense for both sides. A person familiar with Wade’s thinking told The Associated Press that the guard was strongly considering retirement until late last week, when Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and others made a late push to help him decide.
Dwyane Wade: One Last Dance.
Wade reiterated that the decision has always come down to Heat or retirement. “It’s not a Part B to it,” he said. “I think I’ve been very open and honest to my loved ones and to everybody when I spoke about some of the process. I always said that when I got traded back to Miami, that was it for me. I said it in the first interview and I don’t want to pack my bags to go nowhere. My family’s here, my kid are growing, so definitely if I’m not wearing a Miami Heat jersey next year, I’ll be wearing it under one of my sweaters or jackets.”
The Heat, because of their salary-cap situation, are limited to an offer of either the $2.4 million veteran-minimum salary for 2018-19 or their $5.3 million taxpayer mid-level exception. The Heat are limited beyond that with Wade lacking Bird Rights, having been reacquired at last season’s trading deadline from the Cleveland Cavaliers, after first leaving the Heat for his hometown Chicago Bulls in 2016 free agency following contentious negotiations with the Heat. “You’ve got to call my agent and ask him,” Wade said, when asked if the Heat had extended the maximum possible offer. “I haven’t dealt with the money part of it.”
Asked if his deliberations could go until the team’s Sept. 24 media day at AmericanAirlines Arena or even beyond, Wade said, “Whichever day the decision comes, it comes. And that’s the right day, whatever date that is.”
Chris Mannix: Less than two weeks before the start of training camp, and Dwyane Wade tells Miami media that he has not made any decision on a return. Reiterates it’s Miami or retirement.
There is a Heat roster spot waiting for Wade, along with a one-year, $5.3 million contract, the luxury-tax exception. Miami has made clear it wants him back. Wade has made clear it will be Heat-or-retire — no golden parachute in China, no flight west to join LeBron in L.A. “Heat only,” he said recently. I believe quite strongly Wade will return for another season. Why the delay then? Wade enjoys the suspense, the growing attention on his decision.
I am also told by representatives of the club and of the player that Wade being comfortable with his role is critical. He returned last midseason in a bench role, a reserve in all 21 games. He also came off the bench in all five playoffs games. (It would have been four playoff games, but Wade scored 28 points in 26 minutes to give Miami its only postseason win, reminding us what he still is capable of at least in bursts). I have not been told Wade would demand to start. But does he see himself good for more than 25 minutes a game? He mentioned recently that he embraces a mentor’s role for the club’s many young guys still developing, “but you also want to play,” he added. A significant addendum, I thought.
One person who has spoken to Dwyane Wade – as well as a Heat person – have the impression that Wade seems inclined to play this season, but neither believes it’s definite and nobody outside his inner circle definitively knows his intentions. The Heat opens camp a month from Tuesday.
Dwyane Wade: Fake News
Dwyane Wade said a decision on whether he will play a 16th season and where he would play is still pending. “In due time,” Wade said when asked if he has an update on whether he will continue playing in the NBA or overseas or retire. “Time will tell.”
Dwyane Wade again has declined to offer clarity or finality when it comes to his decision about returning to the NBA or Miami Heat. In an interview with the Associated Press that focused on his Wednesday lifetime deal with China-based sporting-apparel manufacturer Li Ning, the Heat’s all-time leading scorer put aside the matter of his NBA future. “When I get back from China, I’ll focus on that,” Wade told the Associated Press. “Right now, I’m focused on the game after basketball. Whatever happens in basketball, it happens. I’ve done everything that I can to this point to put myself that I’m in this position I am today, where I can do something that hasn’t been done globally yet.
“To be here, to be back, to be a part of that, to be a part of leading not only by voice but leading by example, laying it all out on the line with these guys, I felt good about that. I felt good about the Miami Heat whole organization and its future and the kind of players and the kind of people that are in that locker room and in the organization. I was thankful that I could come back and be a part of that.” Asked about retirement, Wade then said, “I’ve given it thought.”
Dwyane Wade: I have fun every summer. You must not know about me.
As for Wade, he’s still unsure if he will play this upcoming season. But he’s sure that if he does decide to continue his career, he wants it to be with the Heat. “If I decide to come back and play the game of basketball, I would love for it, obviously, to be in Miami,” Wade said to Mannix and Butler. “It’s just crazy because in this league you never know what will happen. I never thought I would leave Miami. Caron [Butler] knows that I thought I would be here forever, but things happen.”
Union said she believes her husband can still “play two or three more years” during an appearance on The Ringer’s podcast hosted by Larry Wilmore. Along with answering some basketball questions, she also discussed her new film “Breaking In,” her memoir “We’re Going to Need More Wine” and the #MeToo movement. “If it was from what I can see and the way he’s playing — absolutely,” Union said when asked if she believes Wade can still play. “He can play two or three more years with the way he’s playing because his mid-range jumper is nice and he can still get to the basket. “He can absolutely keep playing, but I don’t know if he’s over it.”
The Heat acquired Wade from the Cavaliers in a Feb. 8 trade. He averaged 12.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists in a bench role in 21 regular-season games with Miami this past season. If Wade does decide to continue his playing career, he said it will be with the Heat. What can Miami offer Wade as it hovers around the luxury tax? Likely just a minimum contract or the exception it gets — either the $5.4 million taxpayer mid-level exception or the $8.8 million mid-level exception.
Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem have an important decision to make this summer. Will they continue their playing careers or retire? That decision won’t be made days after the Heat’s season-ending loss in Philadelphia. With a long offseason ahead, the 36-year-old Wade and 37-year-old Haslem will take their time. “We haven’t really thought about it,” Haslem said Friday on exit interview day. “We’re both in situations where we have a lot of different opportunities ahead of us.
Udonis Haslem: “The most important thing for both of us right now is our family. We’ve sacrificed so much family time being a part of this. We’ve reaped the benefits. We’ve had so much success. We’ve broken records. We’ve enjoyed it. But family is the thing our minds are geared toward right now.”
Udonis Haslem: “When you are young, basketball is number one above all. Toward the middle of your career, basketball may take a little dip and get second. Doesn’t mean it’s not important or not your focus. When you get to this age, basketball is like third or fourth. So many things that are just more important in life than the game of basketball.”
Barry Jackson: Spoelstra said he was basically “in tears” with Wade after Game 5. Spoelstra said he’s not emotionally ready to have “normal conversation with him” about his plans. Will have lunch with him in few weeks.
Dave McMenamin: LeBron James declined to wax poetic about Dwyane Wade’s career before the three-time champion guard announces whether he indeed is retiring this summer after 15 years in the NBA. James did say, however, that he and his former teammate spoke about the possibility of Wade retiring when the Cavs played against Miami late in the season. “Right after the game it was like, ‘If it’s like our last time going against each other, then it’s been everything and more,’” James shared. “But I’ll give you guys a more in-depth analysis of his career (later on) if he decides to hang ‘em up.”
About an hour after the final game of his 15th NBA season, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade acknowledged that he has thought about retiring but said he won’t make a final decision until later in the offseason. “That’s not my focus,” Wade said after the Heat’s season-ending loss to the 76ers on Tuesday. “Fresh off this NBA season, my 15th year, I sit back and think about that. Then I dive and throw myself into my family. They’re next on my bucket list, making sure I’m there for them. And when it comes to the basketball side of it, which is a long time away from now, then I’ll think about that.”
Gabrielle Union: I hope this isnt the end, but my God… @DwyaneWade has a career most people dream of. He is a damn legend. An icon. And hes cute 🤗 #HeatNation
Molly French: Dwayne Wade when asked if this could have been his final home game in South Beach: “I don’t want to answer that right now. I’ve got another game to play.”
Wade said he will take time after the season to decide whether to retire or return to the Heat for one more season. “Just taking time to think, that’s all I’m doing,” Wade said. “Taking time to think and looking at every angle and what’s the best situation for me to be in. That’s all. It’s a lot of different, it’s a lot of different things that come into play.”
If he returns for another season, he said it will only be as a member of the Heat. “Someone like Vince [Carter] can go anywhere and play. Every year, he can go to do a different location,” Wade said. “I can’t hop to here and there. So it makes it a little tougher.”
Wade delivered a throwback 28-point performance in 26 minutes off the bench to propel the Heat to a 113-103 win and snap the Sixers’ 17-game win streak. “A lot of people think that if you do decide to go out it’s because you weren’t supposed to be able to play no more. It’s not always supposed to be that,” Wade told ESPN after the game.
Wade, at 36, hasn’t committed to playing beyond this season, but also hasn’t ruled it out, stressing that such a decision is best left for the offseason. “At the end of the game, we just kind of had that moment like 15 years strong — as brothers, as teammates, as competitors, as teammates again, as competitors again,” James, 33, said, having entered the NBA together as lottery picks in 2003. But our brotherhood is beyond this game of basketball. You just don’t take for granted. You just don’t know. We’ll see what happens in the summer.”
James said he was covering all bases, with Tuesday the third and final meeting between the teams during the regular season. “Absolutely, absolutely,” James said. “Just kind of hearing the narrative since he came here, he’s not quite sure what he’s going to do next year. He’s going to assess everything.”
Wade thinks he’s changed teams for the final time. Whether he plays past this season or not, this is his role until the end. It is the final reinvention. “I want to be my best self,” Wade said. “If I’m on the bench to start games, if I’m on the bench to end games, as long as we’re winning. That’s all I care about.”
Wade, 36, told me in recent days that for the first time in his career, he is genuinely undecided whether he wants to play beyond this season. Wade has said that he will only play for the Heat, if he continues his career beyond this season. “I don’t know,” Wade said. “I have told everybody around me that I am taking it after this season and go from there. It’s the first year I’ve ever went into the summer with that mind-set. I always went into it as a free agent or opting out of a deal to get another deal. This is the first summer I can say I’m just going into the summer and see how I feel and see the position this organization is in and go from there. I’m not really concerned with it, honestly. I’m cool with whatever I decide to do. It will be my decision.”
“[Udonis Haslem] always talked about, as you get older, you take it year by year. But this is the first summer that I will go into the summer and say I ain’t got much hair left, but I’m going to let my hair down and look at everything as a whole, my family and basketball. Being back here helps that situation for me, makes the decision even easier since now that I’m back already. And sit down with Pat [Riley] and Micky [Arison] and everybody and see what’s best for me and go from there.” If Wade agrees to play for the minimum $2.4 million season, only $1.5 million would count against the salary cap. It’s possible, though less likely, that Miami would give Wade a chunk of its salary cap exception — either a $5.5 million taxpayer midlevel exception next summer or a full $8.8 million midlevel exception depending on whether Miami is a tax team.
Since Wade is a legend, it’s fair to wonder if the franchise will do anything to celebrate him during his final game. While it may, Wade made it clear in a conversation with ESPN that the one thing he does not want is a massive retirement tour, a la the one Kobe Bryant (who Wade has talked to about such an event) had during his final season with the Lakers. “I talked to Kobe about that,” Wade said. “He was like ‘It was exhausting. As flattering as it was, it was very exhausting as well.’ I’m not a narcissist like that, I don’t think I need … not calling Kobe a narcissist, he earned that and he needed that. I can’t set out and say ‘I want a farewell tour like Kobe Bryant.’ That’s not who I am. When the time come, and I don’t really talk about it because it’s not here yet, but when the time comes, I’ll announce it in my own D-Wade fashion, the way that I do.”
At 35, Wade said it is only logical to take his career at this stage year by year. “That’s the way I approach it, even if I’m on a contract for two years, that’s how I approached it,” he said. “As me and [Heat captain and close friend] Udonis [Haslem] both talked about for many years and I think we got it from Ray Allen, about knowing that time is going to come for you. Don’t have a perceived notion that I’m retiring at this age, ‘I’m retiring at this year.’ Play the game year after year, see how you feel, and see what you want to do the following year.”
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September 20, 2018 | 9:58 pm EDT Update
So you mentioned the smoother lead up to the season perhaps giving you guys a more energetic vibe early. But do you still view motivation as the biggest challenge — keeping these guys motivated throughout the season? Steve Kerr: “Well, it’s inevitable when you’re staring at the long haul. It’s a nine-month season if you get to the Finals. It’s inevitable you’ll have to deal with some of that. I think this year presents some other challenges that are more healthy. For example: Fitting DeMarcus into the group once he’s ready to play will be a really good challenge for us. It’s an intellectual challenge for our guys because you’re not plugging in a standstill 3-point shooter. You’re plugging in an All-Star player who can dominate a game with the ball. It’s a bigger challenge to figure out how the piece fits and what combinations are going to work best. So I like the challenge and I think the players will embrace that challenge. Whereas last year always felt like autopilot. As long as we were healthy, we always kind of knew what we were going to do. We had a formula. We just kind of went for nine months. There will be more variety this year.”
Do you have any read on where DeMarcus is health-wise right now? I know he won’t be ready for the start of camp next week, but how much do you think he’ll be able to do, how much will be around the practice portions? Steve Kerr: “Well, he’s been around the last few weeks. He rehabbed in Las Vegas over the summer, but he’s been here (in the Bay Area) the last few weeks, settling into his new home and new life. He’s on the court every day working. He’s so skilled. He’s got such great hands, shoots the ball so well, fantastic passer. He’s been working on all that stuff. So he’ll do as much as he can during camp and that will be decided by our training staff, headed by Rick Celebrini and Drew Yoder. We’ll confer with them every day.”
There’s the typical way an NBA team signs a free agent: Team reaches out to said free agent, makes an offer and player accepts. And then there’s the Briante Weber way, the proactive path that led him back to South Florida for a second tour with the Heat. Weber, unemployed this summer after stints last season with Houston and Memphis, decided that the Heat would be the best place to jump-start his career. And so Weber made calls. Not one, not two, but enough to reach virtually everyone of importance he knew within the organization.
“I reached out to the whole Heat coaching staff from top to bottom,” Briante Weber said at Bam Adebayo’s culinary charity event last week. “I reached out to [Heat vice president/player personnel] Adam Simon. I reached to [Erik Spoelstra] and [assistant], Dan Craig, even coach O [Octavio De La Grana]. I reached out to the whole coaching staff and told them my style of play fits here and you guys showed me how to be a pro. I want to come back here and pay dividends and show you what I’ve learned over the years and show you I belong. They gave me an opportunity so I am here to show them what I can do again.”