Udonis Haslem doesn’t need to sell anyone on how he feels about Dwyane Wade.
They spent their first 13 years in the league together, won three championships together, talk to each other every day and go on vacation together.
So now that Wade, 35, is in the process of having his contract bought out by the Chicago Bulls, Haslem, 37, has no problem selling Wade on coming back to Miami to finish their careers together – a promise they made to each other years ago. And it appears no one on the Heat’s roster – which is loaded at guard – has much issue with a potential reunion either.
“He understands what my position is, he understands what my feelings are, but he also understands that as a brother I will support whatever decision he makes,” Haslem said Monday at Heat media day. “My heart, my soul, my mind and everything that’s speaking to me says I want him here, we want him here. But obviously that’s a decision he has to make and I will support that decision whatever it is, whether it’s in Miami, OKC or Cleveland, I will support whatever decision he makes. I would hope it would be here. It would be a dream come true.
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“We have an amazing amount of talent with Dion [Waiters] and JJ [James Johnson] and these young guys that are guards that Dwyane could teach those guys something I can’t. I can teach these guys how to win. I can get in the trenches with Hassan [Whiteside] and Bam [Adebayo] and those guys. I can’t teach [Josh Richarson] to Eurostep. I can’t talk about coming off the pick and roll and different things he could probably point out to those guys. For him to bring his expertise and everything we’ve accomplished together and bring it here and help me lead those guys that would be amazing. If it happens, we’ll see.”
Wade, who reportedly left upwards of $8 million on the table from the $23.8 million the Bulls owed him for this coming season, will likely choose between the Heat, Thunder and Cavaliers in the coming days though several other teams reportedly have made a push. The Heat can offer the 12-time All-Star a $4.3 million exception – more than the Thunder and Cavaliers.
But OKC and Cleveland could offer him better roles, something Wade said late Sunday night was his biggest factor. Cleveland could be without injured point guard Isaiah Thomas until January.
“I would love to have D-Wade be part of this team,” LeBron James told reporters at Cavs Media Day on Monday.
Goran Dragic, who played a season-and-a-half with Wade before he left for Chicago in the 2016 offseason, said he exchanged text messages with Wade after leading Slovenia to the EuroBasket gold medal, but has yet to try and recruit him to the Heat. He plans to though.
“Of course we’re going to respect his decision, but every team wants to have a Hall of Famer and All-Star player on their team,” Dragic said. “So hopefully, he’s going to come back home. This is home.”
Center Hassan Whiteside, meanwhile, sent Wade a message on Twitter Monday. “Hey big head,” he wrote.
Asked if he has recruited Wade at all (something NBA teams can’t do while Wade remains a Bull), Whiteside laughed and said “That’s top secret, man.”
“You put can D-Wade anywhere on the court for us,” Whiteside said. “It’ll work.”
Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Dion Waiters — who would all be in line to lose minutes with a Wade addition — all agreed with Whiteside.
▪ Waiters, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal this summer to stay with the Heat, said he still feels some discomfort in the same left ankle he badly sprained back in March and cost him the final 13 games of the regular season.
“Here and there there will be aches,” Waiters said. “It’s nothing. Just got to stay on top of it.”
Waiters, 25, had the option of having minor surgery to repair the ankle, he said, but decided against it. Waiters said he still expects to be “full-go” when camp opens Tuesday at FAU and can play through the discomfort.
▪ Richardson, who signed a four-year, $42 million extension through the 2021-22 season earlier this month, said he has gained 10 pounds of muscle this summer to help him prepare for more minutes at small forward.
“It was dope,” Richardson said of signing the extension. “I was at home when everybody found out about it. Guys Facetimed me and called and stuff and were excited. It’s great to know the organization has that much faith in me – even through my injury-riddled season last year. I’m excited my future is set.”