Storyline: Dwyane Wade to Heat

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Nobody might be happier about Dwyane Wade coming back to the Miami Heat than Udonis Haslem. In fact, go ahead and mark it down. Nobody is happier about Wade, 36, heading home than his best friend. “I bet you probably want to hear me say I knew it all the time, don’t you?” Haslem said through a grin Thursday outside the Heat’s locker room inside AmericanAirlines Arena. “No, it’s good, man. I’m happy for him. I’m happy to have the opportunity to play the game of basketball with him and compete with him, to lead with him. The guys are excited about the opportunity. Hank is still doing his job from above.”

Hank Thomas was Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade’s longtime agent, Henry Thomas, who passed away late last month. Haslem, 37, left the team before Thomas died to spend time with him. Then he left again to attend his funeral alongside Pat Riley. Wade was there too. Together, Haslem and Wade got to spend a lot of time together mourning Thomas’ passing. They’ve spent a lot of time talking in the days since. Now, they’re teammates again and Haslem believes Thomas played a factor in that happening. “We kind of feel like we spoke it into existence a little bit,” Haslem said. “This is something him and I talked about playing together. But we didn’t see it happening so soon. We figured it would probably be next year. Take it step by step and figure it out this summer. But everything happens for a reason.”

Does Wade, 36, envision that as a ceremonial one-day contract or does he actually want to play again in a Heat jersey? “I don’t know,” Wade said. “For me, I’m at the point where you get this high up in years played in the NBA, you kind of take the summer to think about what you want as a player and go from there. For me, the arena that I walked in to play, I would like to leave in. How it’s done, I don’t know. I can’t predict the future. If it’s a Paul Pierce situation or just playing, I don’t know. But I definitely would like to walk out the same way I came in.”

Wade believes Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is finally getting the recognition he deserves. “He never gets the credit. I’m not saying he’s looking for it. He didn’t get credit when we were winning championships and going to Finals,” Wade said. “It’s not easy to have success in this league. Last year, everyone thought he should have been Coach of the Year for what he was able to do. For what they’re doing this year, he’s right back up there in that conversation. He’s a great coach. He’s one of the best in our game.”

Riley said what will endure are Wade’s accomplishment’s over his 13 seasons with the Heat, including three NBA titles. “Other than actually being in love with Dwyane Wade because of our relationship over 13 years when he was here, and remembering when Jason Terry missed that shot in Dallas and Dwyane collared the rebound, threw it to the heavens and we won the championship and he was MVP of that series,” Riley said of the 2006 NBA Finals, “other than that, if something happens, and I can speak to this because he’s under contract to them, I’m just speaking of my experience with Dwyane.”

Though ESPN reported that LeBron James’ camp expects Dwyane Wade to end up with Cleveland if he reaches a buyout with the Bulls, a Wade associate has been telling people that Miami and Los Angeles are also appealing destinations for Wade. Chicago media has reported recently that no Bulls buyout talks have happened yet with Wade, and it’s unclear when they will happen…The person who mentioned Miami and L.A. to me was the same person who first alerted me to my scoop a few years ago that Wade’s negotiations with the Heat were not going well – the first time that information ever surfaced (and a year later, the sides divorced).

“I would love to have him back, everybody knows that,” Haslem said. “Not only is he a great competitor, great teammate I learned a lot from but also a friend of mine, I consider him a brother. I just want Dwyane to be happy. This is the last lap for us both. We deserve to finish it the right way. Whatever makes him happy finishing his career. … hopefully it’s in Miami. I would love for it to be Miami. I want him to finish it right and have no regrets.”

Miami Heat captain Udonis Haslem has some advice – and a message – for his good friend, Dwyane Wade. “My advice to him is, ‘Hey, we’d love to have you but take it one step at a time, take it one day at a time,” Haslem said today on the Joe Rose Show on 560WQAM. “The situation with Chicago and everything that’s going on it’s just a frustrating situation on both sides and I think he just made a decision based on frustration.” Haslem, who is about to start his 15th season with the Heat, spent 13 of those with Wade. With speculation Wade and the Chicago Bulls are headed for a breakup via a buyout, Haslem is hoping to be reunited with his friend.

Eventually, Wade’s decision could come down to perceptions of the Bulls and Heat going forward. “I think with his situation, if they decide to get rid of Jimmy [Butler] and start young, it’s a little bit different,” said Haslem, who again returns to free agency this summer. “I think we had a lot of growing pains, but I think we grew up a lot last year. So if they decide to go young and start over, I think we will be a little bit ahead of those guys.”

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.

Wade’s former trainer, Tim Grover, fueled further speculation about an eventual reunion for Wade and the Heat while making an appearance on FS1’s “UNDISPUTED” on Oct. 19. While discussing several NBA topics with Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless, Grover expressed his belief that Wade will end up coming back to the Heat. Grover made it clear that he hasn’t had any discussions with Wade or Riley, but stated that he has “a gut feeling” that Wade “will finish his career in Miami.”
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May 25, 2018 | 3:56 pm EDT Update