With tension building between the Miami Heat and Dwyane Wade, the two sides are expected to meet soon and clear the air.
Wade wants to opt out of the final year on his contract and renegotiate for more money and more years. The Heat wants Wade to finish his current contract — scheduled to pay him $16.1 million next season — before hashing out another for the 2016-17 season and beyond. The sides are far apart, and Wade can become a free agent July 1.
Meanwhile, point guard Goran Dragic, whom the Heat acquired last season from Phoenix, will officially become a free agent. A deadline for Dragic to opt in passed Monday, meaning Dragic has officially opted out of the final year of his deal, which was set to pay him $7.5 million next season.
The Heat, which hopes to wrap up a long-term deal with Dragic soon, can offer him as much as five years and $115 million. Other teams can offer him no more than four years and $86 million. However, Dragic can’t negotiate with Miami or any other team until July 1.
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Complicating talks between Wade and the Heat is an ominous luxury-tax scenario that the Heat hopes to mitigate, if not avoid entirely. One way the Heat could cut costs while also keeping Wade is by trading players. Mario Chalmers (due to earn $4.3 million next season) and Chris Andersen ($5 million) are in the final years of their contracts, and the Heat has been shopping the two, according to a report by ESPN.
Losing one or two rotation players this offseason likely would alter the Heat’s strategy heading into Thursday night’s NBA Draft, where Miami owns the 10th and 40th picks. The Heat’s meeting with Wade in the next few days would help the franchise prioritize its list of prospects before the draft.
It was reported on Sunday night by Sports Illustrated that Wade and the Los Angeles Lakers would share mutual interest if Wade opts out and becomes a free agent. The Lakers and Knicks are expected to have space under the salary cap this summer, but beyond those teams Wade’s options could be limited.
One option for Wade might be to sign a one-year max deal with the Heat worth $23.5 million. That scenario would make Wade the Heat’s highest-paid player next season, but it would also put the Heat at risk of the luxury tax.
The Heat has paid into the luxury tax three of the past four years, and a mechanism is in place in the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement to strongly dissuade a team from making it four in five years. A team that pays the luxury tax in four out of five years must then also pay a “repeater” tax, and that’s a highly punitive ordeal. The Heat and the Brooklyn Nets could be the first teams to pay the repeater tax after next season.
Then there’s the business of small forward Luol Deng, who can also opt out of his contract, scheduled to pay him $10.1 million next season.
Wade and Deng have opt-in deadlines set for midnight June 29. If they do nothing, they will officially opt out and become free agents.