There is a significant difference between what the Heat and Dwyane Wade believe he should be paid over the next three seasons, and that gap has left his future with the franchise in question, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the discussions.
Though Wade prefers to stay with the Heat, where he has spent his entire 12-year career, he is now open to at least considering other teams this summer if the Heat does not raise its offer, according to three of the sources.
Wade must inform the Heat by late June whether he will opt out of a contract that would pay him $16.1 million next season.
The Heat wants to keep him but believes that paying him what he’s seeking would dramatically reduce its flexibility to add additional players during the summers of 2016 and 2017.
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Last summer, in order to give the Heat flexibility to augment its roster, Wade opted out of the final two years of a contract that would have paid him $41.6 million. He instead accepted a two-year, $31 million deal, which includes that player option for next season at $16.1 million.
Wade, 33, said last summer that he was curious to see what he could command in the summer of 2016, when the cap is expected to skyrocket from $67 million to $89 million. That led to the initial belief that Wade would opt-in this summer.
But according to several associates, Wade now prefers to opt out this summer, with the hope that the Heat would give him a lucrative three-year deal that would extend past his 36th birthday.
That does not appear to be the Heat’s preference. The Heat would be content with Wade opting in for next season, then re-signing for good — but not huge — money for another two seasons after that, sources said.
Wade’s agent, Henry Thomas, declined to discuss the gap in negotiations, the chances of Wade leaving the Heat or whether Wade definitely will opt out.
“With the amount of time he has spent with the organization, every effort will be made to try to work something out,” Thomas said. “The five times he played for a championship, resulting in three championships, is a significant accomplishment for any professional. We are continuing to talk about a resolution that would be satisfactory to both sides.”
Is Wade angry with the Heat’s offer?
“I am going to continue to have conversations with the Heat and try to make this work,” Thomas responded.
Thomas declined to speculate about how he believes this will turn out.
“We will continue to talk,” he said. “It’s relativity early in the process.”
Wade hasn’t commented about his contract situation but said after the season: “I feel like I’ve got a few good years left.”
The Heat declined to discuss Wade’s contract situation.
Under terms of his current contract, Wade is making far less than the $23.6 million per season than Chris Bosh averages annually. Goran Dragic, if he re-signs with Miami, could be making as much as $21.8 million annually.
There is no indication that Wade expects to be paid quite as much as either of those players, but he would like a salary commensurate with an All-Star player.
From the Heat’s perspective, paying Wade a large salary in 2016-17 and 2017-18 would limit its flexibility under the salary cap.
There’s also the delicate matter of Wade’s injuries. He missed 20 games last season after sitting out 13 and 28 the previous two.
In a news conference after the season, Heat president Pat Riley said Wade has “got to change the narrative himself about his body and about his injuries and about his missing games. And we had a discussion about this. … There is no doubt that we’re going to need Dwyane every single night that he’s available. He is a great, great, great player, right up there in this organization for the 12 years he’s been here, best of the best.”
Wade is an 11-time All-Star and eight times has been named to the All-NBA’s first, second or third team. He was not on an All-NBA team this season but received two third-place votes.