Is Dwyane Wade ready to continue his playing career in China?
A report out of China on Saturday morning suggested that the Xinjiang Flying Tigers are prepared to offer the guard “a monster deal” to get the 36-year-old, 12-time All-Star to play in the Chinese Basketball Association this fall instead of a 16th season in the NBA, with the Miami Heat.
Wade, who has been in China on his annual summer marketing tour (his last day in China was Saturday), signed a lifetime contract with the apparel and sneaker company Li-Ning earlier this week. He’s been with the company since 2012 and there’s always been the rumor out there that he could one day play in China once he retires from the NBA.
Close friend and Heat teammate Udonis Haslem has been in China with Wade this week and said last month he would consider playing in China next season so he could get more playing time. Haslem played in a career-low 14 games and only 72 minutes last season with the Heat, his fewest in 15 seasons with the club.
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Wade, though, still showed he had plenty left in the tank after the Heat acquired him at the NBA trade deadline last February.
Although he shot only 40.9 percent from the field and averaged 12 points in his 21 regular season games with the Heat, Wade shot 44.3 percent from the field and averaged 16.6 points in the playoffs in only 25.4 minutes per game. He also led Miami to its only win against the 76ers with a game-high 28 points in Game 2 in Philadelphia.
Wade told The Associated Press this week that he would wait until after he got back from his tour in China to think about his basketball future.
“Right now, I’m focused on the game after basketball,” Wade told AP. “Whatever happens in basketball, it happens. I’ve done everything that I can to this point to put myself ... in this position I am today, where I can do something that hasn’t been done globally yet.
“The basketball will take care of itself. I’ll sit down and figure that out once I get back from this tour at some point.”
The Heat, which has 12 of a possible 15 players under contract for next season and is $4 million over the $123 million luxury tax, has left two roster spots open waiting for Wade and Haslem, 38, to make a decision about their future. Haslem played on the NBA veteran’s minimum of $2.3 million last season and will likely earn the same with the Heat if he decides to return.
The Heat could offer Wade the team’s $5.3 million taxpayer mid-level exception, but it’s ultimately up to owner Micky Arison to decide how far he’s willing to go into the luxury tax next season for a team not considered a serious title contender.
So what is a monster deal in China? According to ESPN, former Washington Wizards big man Andre Blatche earned $2.5 million per season on his recent deal with the Flying Tigers. The same team recently signed former Indiana Pacers big man Al Jefferson. Terms of the deal aren’t known.
Wade said earlier this summer his ‘only vision’ is playing in a Miami Heat uniform should he return to the NBA. Part of that is because he wants to be closer to his sons, including 16-year-old Zaire, a budding young basketball star.
One benefit of playing overseas is that the Chinese Basketball Association plays a 38-game regular season from October to March and the playoffs run into the middle of April. The NBA plays an 82-game schedule that runs from September to April and the playoffs carry into June.
Former New York Knicks star point guard Stephon Marbury, who earned more than $150 million in 13 NBA seasons, jumped to the CBA in 2010, won three championships and now has a small museum and a statue dedicated to him Beijing. He’s also been featured on a postage stamp, a theatrical play about his life and is reportedly having a movie made about him.