“It’s draining when you’re pain, going through certain things — it makes you question do you want to keep playing the game and all these things,” said Wade, who missed only seven regular-season games because of injury after dealing with knee issues and other injuries over the three previous seasons.
“[This season] for sure energized me going forward. However long I’m going to play, I’m excited to hopefully play healthy from now on.
“Obviously teams change. You don’t know what your role is going to be from one year to the next. I relished the opportunity this year to have the ball in my hands a lot. I don’t know if that’s going to happen going forward the rest of my career. So, I don’t know if my output and usage is going to be the same. But as long as I feel the same I’m going to figure it out. Plus, now I’ve become a three-point shooter.”
Wade finished 12 of 23 from three-point range in the playoffs (52.3 percent) — a drastic improvement over his regular-season numbers (7 of 44, 15.9 percent). The three-point shot is a weapon Wade claims he’s always had, but just hasn’t used or focused on developing enough. That, though, could change this summer.
“I am,” Wade said when asked if he plans on working on his three-point shot this summer. “Of course, I say that now. But at the start of next season for sure I’m shooting more threes.”
Although he’s one of eight free agents for the Heat heading into the summer, Wade is the most likely of the eight to return. He told the Miami Herald in February he wants to finish his career with Miami.
“It’s a critical offseason for the growth and what we’ve been trying to do as an organization since our runs to the Finals,” Wade said. “Last year was the first year of us rebuilding to get there. This year was another step in the right direction. Obviously, the health of Chris Bosh is important for the future of this organization. We missed him. I missed him this year, more than I missed him last year. So, it’s an important offseason when it’s time to get there. It will be important for the organization, it will be important for Chris and, of course, it will be important for me.”
The Heat has $40 million in cap space and Wade, who made $20 million this season, could potentially command just as much money after finishing the postseason averaging 21.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists while shooting 46.9 percent from the field.
That doesn’t leave a lot of money for the other guys: Luol Deng, Joe Johnson, Gerald Green, Udonis Haslem, Amar’e Stoudemire, Dorell Wright and Hassan Whiteside.
Johnson, 35, could sign a one-year, mid-level exception to come back. But he was noncommittal about his future with the Heat.
“I think it was pretty good. I enjoyed it,” Johnson said of his time with the Heat. “[But] I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I ain’t even trying to think about all that.”
Stoudemire, who started 36 regular-season games for the Heat, clearly wasn’t happy to be sitting on the Heat’s bench for Games 6 and 7.
“For me personally, I showed great health, showed resilience and consistency of playing,” Stoudemire said. “Would love to have played more but, for the most part, it was a successful year from a health standpoint. Great chemistry. I enjoyed the guys. I had the best time of my life with my teammates this season.”
Whiteside and Deng figure to command the most free agent money aside from Wade. Goran Dragic said earlier this week he will do all he can to try and recruit Deng to stay in Miami.