More than six months after leaving the Heat, Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade this week changed his tune about why he left Miami, citing a reason that he originally said was no factor in his decision.
Six months ago, when Wade joined the Bulls, he said the fact Heat president Pat Riley never contacted him in negotiations was not a factor.
“I couldn't concern myself or worry about someone reaching out to me or not reaching out to me,” he said at his introductory Bulls news conference last July. “That's [wasn't] why I made the decision. It wasn't because he didn't reach out to me. How petty is that? I wasn't looking for Pat to reach out to me. That wasn't the focus of mine. … My heart was telling me to go back home.”
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But in a podcast with The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski this week, Wade admitted that Riley not calling him was the deciding factor.
“I did feel at the end of the day it's Micky Arison's team but it's Pat's show,” Wade told Wojnarowski. “I love Pat and I know he loves me. The fact that we didn't talk, that hurt. That was my deciding factor when it came down to the end of the day and he didn't show he wanted me there. I know the Arison family loved me and wanted me there. I know Spo [coach Erik Spoelstra] wanted me there.
“At the end of the day, I didn't hear from the guy I needed to. I expressed this to him later. That right there hurt me. It showed me... it was time to remove myself from the situation.... It's a business. But I'm human as well. I was waiting for him to step up and meet me, call me, do something and it just never happened. That's not the Pat I know. You can find me quicker than anybody. You want to be wanted. Everyone wants to be wanted. I didn't feel like I was wanted from the person I wanted to be wanted from…. I was waiting for him to step up and meet me somewhere. Call me. Do something. It just never happened. That's not Pat. That's not the Pat I know.”
Wade admitted that he felt the Heat took him for granted.
“I don't accept how they all played out,” he said. “Same way I did certain things, I felt they should have. Same year LeBron [James] left, they signed Chris [Bosh] to a max deal. I'm happy for Chris. OK, it’s my turn. That hurt me. I've spoken this to Pat. That really hurt me. That was the first moment where I felt I was taken for granted. I signed a shorter deal.”
That deal ended up paying him $15 million in 2014-15, the first year after James left.
“Then the next year,... Goran [Dragic] comes in,” Wade said. “They max Goran out. Same thing, one year deal.”
Dragic’s deal (five years, $85 million) was actually well short of the max. Wade took $20 million for 2015-16.
“All these players deserved the money they got,” Wade said. “My [gripe] is not with any of them. I love all of those guys. I'm sitting over here with my hands [open]. Everyone is talking the future, the future. My future is running out. I'm still a good player in this league. I'm not asking for something I don't think I deserve.... Did my feelings get hurt some? Yes. At the end of the day, you have to make the best decision for you.”
Wade spoke of his appreciation for what he learned in Miami and how he tried to take that culture to Chicago.
“What Pat and Micky have been able to establish in Miami is incredible,” he said. “There are great things about it and some things not great as far as how controlling it can be. From a basketball standpoint, it's phenomenal.”
Wade, if he chooses, can opt out of a contract that would pay him $23.8 million next season. Though it’s certainly possible that Wade could return to the Heat some day, it’s difficult to envision it this offseason unless Wade agrees to an enormous pay cut.
So have Wade and Udonis Haslem discussed this?
“We don't talk about it,” Haslem said. “You can never say never. I would love to have him back. But we have some young pieces we need to develop and watch those players grow. We'll see what happens….
We want some young talent that we want to groom. Let these guys blossom some.”
Asked by Wojnarowksi about that player option to return to the Bulls next season, Wade said: “I will make the best decision for where my career is going and where my career is at.”
Asked about being in his hometown and how that will factor into his decision, he said: “The Chicago part is enough but it's not the only part. It's a money part and it's a winning part. Family, money, winning.”
Wade told Wojnarowski that “I know one day my jersey will be retired in Miami. I know one day I will have that ceremony….
“I thought it was cool to play in one place [your entire career]. It's rare. Who doesn't want to be rare? It didn't work out for me. But it doesn't take anything away from my journey. I look back at those 13 years and I smile.
“I think people think I want the Heat to be bad. Yes, I follow the Heat. I watch all the games. That is always going to be my organization for what I was able to accomplish there. I want nothing but success for them. It's nothing but love for me.”
• Though the Heat expressed interest in a trade for Orlando power forward Serge Ibaka, the Magic instead traded him to Toronto today, according to Wojnarowski. The Magic gets swingman Terrence Ross and a first-round pick. The Heat, by league rule, was not permitted to trade its first-round pick because it traded last year’s.