The last time Dwyane Wade had a chance to become a free agent, he got shorted millions of dollars. Naturally, he doesn’t want that to happen again, so now the Heat’s star shooting guard is using a shrewder approach.
All indications point to Wade opting out of his current contract with the Heat and becoming a free agent on Wednesday. Wade has one year left on his current deal, and the deadline to pick up that option ends at midnight on Monday. If the deadline passes without any word from Wade or the Heat, then the two sides will begin contract negotiations on Wednesday. Wade would then seek a multiyear deal for more guaranteed money.
While appearing as a TV analyst for ABC during the NBA Finals, Wade hinted toward free agency when he said he would deal with his future “in July.” Wade also referred to playing for the Heat in the past tense, which touched off further speculation.
Contractual acrimony between Wade and the Heat first became public in a story by the Miami Herald earlier this month.
In addition to Monday’s deadline on Wade’s contract option, fellow Heat starter Luol Deng must also decide whether or not to enter free agency. He was still undecided Sunday, according to his agent, Herb Rudoy. Like Wade, Deng has one year left on his contract and, like Wade, Deng might want a new contract for more years.
On Thursday, Heat president Pat Riley all but confirmed Wade and Deng would both become free agents. Heat point guard Goran Dragic, who joined the team in February after a blockbuster trade, decided last week to become a free agent. He’s expected to sign a five-year deal with the Heat.
“I want all of them to come back,” Riley said. “I’d like to make a deal with all of these players and keep the team we built last year. We’ll find out on July 1. Before that, it really is all speculation. Everybody should just chill a little bit and wait until July 1.”
There is no chill in today’s NBA, of course, and Wade and the Heat are believed to be far apart on the terms of a new deal, but at least both parties ultimately want the same thing. The Heat wants Wade to end his career in Miami, and Wade, who has brought three championships to Miami in the past 10 years, would prefer to stay with the team that drafted him in 2003. That’s a good starting point. Now the star player and the club he helped elevate to one of the premier franchises in basketball must find common ground.
The initial talks didn’t go well, apparently, with Wade understandably still a bit agitated about how the summer of 2014 ended.
Wade signed a new contract for less money in 2014 so his team could remain a contender after LeBron James left for Cleveland. Meanwhile, Chris Bosh signed a five-year deal for the maximum amount of money allowed under the collective bargaining agreement. Last season, Bosh had the largest guaranteed contract of any player in the NBA.
The belief is that Wade, 33, would now like to earn back some of that money he left on the table in 2014 in the form of a new three-year deal. Wade was set to make $16.1 million next season, but negotiations of a new deal could begin as high as $22 million for 2015-16.
Wade opted out of the final two years of a contract last summer that would have paid him $41 million. It is believed that Wade would like a new contract around $60 million for three years, but the Heat would prefer Wade to take less money. In doing so, Wade would give the Heat more financial flexibility to lure another superstar to Miami in the summer of 2016.
“Everybody in this organization over the years has had to sacrifice,” Riley said. “The one player that’s had to sacrifice for the sake of winning has been [Wade]. This is now getting down to business. We respect him. We want him back. We want him here for the rest of his career. And we’re going to try to do everything to make that happen.”
Monday will be a busy day for the Heat. Long before the opt-in deadline at midnight, the team will introduce first-round draft pick Justise Winslow with his first news conference. Winslow, 19, will begin training with the Heat this week before heading to Orlando with the Heat’s summer-league team.
The Heat will not exercise its team option for Michael Beasley, according to Beasley’s agent, Jared Karnes. Beasley was set to make $1.3 million next season. Drafting Winslow factored into the Heat’s decision to part ways with Beasley. Beasley said goodbye to Miami on Sunday with a post on Instagram: “Goodbye, Miami, Florida. Wish that I can say it’s been real.”