The Heat’s team of the future came into better focus Wednesday when point guard Goran Dragic agreed to a multiyear contract with the team.
Though Dragic’s agreement materialized rather quickly, and with little fuss, free agent negotiations between the Heat and Dwyane Wade extended through the day. A source called dialogue between the Heat and Wade “ongoing.” Meanwhile, dizzying free agent deals from all points on the map launched the NBA into a new era of spending.
Dragic’s deal is for five years and $90 million with a player option on the final year. ESPN first reported the agreement. A new contract cannot be signed until the end of the NBA’s free agent moratorium on July 9.
The Heat acquired Dragic at great expense in February (four players and two future first-round picks), but that trade gave Miami exclusivity to offer Dragic a five-year contract this offseason. No other team could. The fifth year of Dragic’s new deal will be designated as a player-option year, according to a report. That would allow Dragic to renegotiate his deal with the Heat in the summer of 2019, or perhaps look elsewhere.
It’s that same contractual mechanism that allowed Wade to opt out of his contract Monday. Wade is seeking a multiyear deal from the Heat, but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on Wednesday afternoon.
Wade might now entertain offers from other teams, or at least schedule meetings to leverage a concession from the Heat. The Heat has approached these talks with Wade with one eye on the future, but the franchise can ill afford to lose its longtime star.
In signing for $90 million over five years, Dragic left the Heat some financial wiggle room to possibly sweeten Wade’s deal. Dragic could have signed a maximum contract worth in excess of $100 million. Finding common ground with Wade is now the Heat’s top priority of the free agency period. If Wade returns, the Heat would be a contender in the Eastern Conference.
Though talks flattened with Wade on Wednesday, the Heat’s offseason transactions this past week have been an overall success.
Last Thursday, Miami drafted NBA-ready youngster Justise Winslow, who as a collegiate freshman last season helped lead Duke University to a national championship. The Heat selected Winslow with its No. 10 pick. It was a move considered one of the best of the draft. Many around the league believe Winslow has the potential to develop into the Heat’s next star.
On Monday, Luol Deng, who also had a player-option entering free agency, chose to return to the Heat for the final year of his two-year deal. The move was somewhat of a surprise, and considered a great success for the Heat. Deng, who started the most games for the Heat last season (72), chose to return based on the potential strength of the team for next season.
Elsewhere in the NBA on Wednesday, one of the league’s stars agreed to a mega contract while role players scored deals that helped set the market.
New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis reportedly negotiated a new contract for $145 million over five years, or the largest contract in NBA history. Davis projects as one of the best NBA players for years to come, and his new contract was interpreted as a sign of the times.
With the league’s salary cap expected to jump around $25 million next year, players with expiring contracts or player options this offseason are already cashing in. For example, shooting guard Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs agreed to a four-year deal worth $45 million, and that number was considered a steal for the Spurs.
Free agent Al-Farouq Aminu, who averaged 5.6 points and 4.6 rebounds last year for the Dallas Mavericks, agreed to a four-year, $30 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers. Point guard Brandon Knight, a former star at Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest, negotiated a five-year extension for $70 million.
Dragic is spending the offseason in his native Slovenia, where he and his wife are awaiting the birth of their second child. It was there that the international basketball star agreed to the largest contract of his career. The deal would make him the third-highest-paid point guard in the NBA behind Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls.
With such a huge jump in salary coming to Dragic, teammate Hassan Whiteside jokingly asked the point guard for money on Twitter after news of the deal became public.
“Congrats @Goran_Dragic on [the] new deal,” Whiteside wrote. “Welcome back to the family and let me borrow 5 dollars.”