All Dwyane Wade is really ready for is some time off.
While Miami Heat fans might be eagerly anticipating what Pat Riley will do when free agency gets underway in July — and how he’ll retool the franchise to make another run at a title — Wade, 34, said Tuesday he’s not going to spend one second worrying about it.
He’s not going to call any fellow free agent teammates like Hassan Whiteside or Luol Deng or Joe Johnson to do any recruiting, and he’s not going to concern himself with the way Riley is going to spend the $40 million in available cap space the Heat has.
“I think I’ve been around long enough not to expect anything going into the summer,” Wade said shortly after coach Erik Spoelstra and a handful of players met with reporters Tuesday to provide their final thoughts on the 2015-2016 season that ended with a Game 7 loss to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday.
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“That’s always a thing going into the summer — it’s always the unknown of what a team is going to be when you don’t have a lot of guys under contract, when your whole team is not under contract,” Wade continued. “One thing I do know is that in the 13 years I’ve been here — and the years after I leave — the Miami Heat will always try to put a winning team on the court. I think it’s always safe to say that.”
Wade, who is coming off a season in which he only missed seven games due to injury and posted playoff numbers (21.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists) very similar to when the Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals (22.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists), reiterated Tuesday that this season was a success for Miami.
He said he and his teammates “all had visions of it being better,” but that was with a healthy roster that included Whiteside and Chris Bosh.
“As players, people say championship or bust,” Wade said. “I could say that for a few teams possibly, but not every team in the league has that. It’s impossible. For this team, this was a successful season coming from where we were at last year.
“You have to take steps. It’s just like a baby. You have to crawl before you walk. You have to walk before you run. Last year we started over not making the playoffs. This year we came back and didn’t have the best luck, but we were still were able to fight our way to one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals. To me, that’s a big step in the right direction. It doesn’t guarantee that you that the steps are going to continue to go up that way. But from that standpoint — with what we dealt with last season and what we dealt with this season — this season was a success.”
Last summer, Wade went into free agency wanting a raise and after some uncomfortable and tense negotiating moments he finally got one, signing a one-year, $20 million deal.
This summer, with the Heat hoping to keep Whiteside, who could command a max deal, Deng, who could also see bigger money elsewhere, and with the long shot hope the league’s top free agent Kevin Durant could consider Miami, Wade could be asked to make a financial sacrifice again to make it all work.
Does he anticipate a smoother free agency period for himself this time around?
“I don’t know what to anticipate,” Wade said. “I don’t pay myself. So, I can’t anticipate anything being smooth. Like I said earlier in the year, I hope it is [smooth]. I hope everything for myself is quiet and everything works out the way I want it to, whatever that is. But, I have no control over that as much as people would think. You have no control how that is necessarily is going to go.
“It’s a lot of moving parts in free agency. So, we’ll see how it goes. I’m not worried about it at all. That’s in July. I’m going to enjoy my day or two off and then when it’s time for me to focus on my free agency part of July, I will for sure do that.”
Could this be his final contract before retirement? Wade didn’t want to get into that.
“Like I told you guys, whenever I decide that day that its over, just because I sign a contract it doesn’t mean that’s going to be it,” Wade said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to play that whole contract out. You just never know what’s going to happen in a player’s career.
“The contract I look forward to signing this summer is the contract I’m comfortable with. Then, whenever that ends, I move onto the next one — if there’s another contract. If there isn’t, who knows. You’re not going to tie me down to [any] years.”