Pat Riley said last month he was hoping to find out around mid-August if Miami Heat legends Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem were going to return for their 16th seasons with the team.
As the calendar continues to inch closer to the middle of the month, its clear Wade, 36, still hasn’t made his mind up and is in no rush to do so. Another thing Wade made clear: If he does play, it will not be overseas in China or for another NBA team.
“Heat only,” the 12-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion responded Saturday when asked at the NBA’s Jr. World Championships at Disney’s Wide World of Sports if he would consider playing overseas in China this coming season after signing a lifetime contract with the shoe and apparel company Li-Ning.
“If I play the game of basketball this year it will be in a Miami uniform,” Wade continued. “If I don’t, I’ll be living in Miami and somewhere else probably.”
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The Heat, which has 13 players under contract and is roughly $4 million over the league’s $123 million luxury tax line, can only offer Wade a $5.3 million luxury tax exception or the veteran league minimum of $2.4 million for next season.
The Heat has been holding two roster spots open for Wade and Haslem until they decide if they are returning. Wade said Saturday he’s in no rush to reach a decision.
“It’s no clock for me,” Wade said. “I let my agent handle the stuff he needs to handle with Pat and them. It’s not my job to be going back and forth in the meeting with them. When the time is right for both sides to make a decision on what that is, if it it’s right, if it’s wrong, whatever the case may be, I think it will be made.
“Me and UD, Pat has said obviously, we’ve been in Miami for a while and we have the ability to say if we want to continue to play this game, continue to be leaders of the organization. But there are other things that come into play that I have to talk about and I’m sure UD has to talk about on his own. When all of that is final and the decision needs to be made it will be made.
“It’s different now. We’re not sitting down trying to figure out a $100 million contract by July 8th. It’s a different situation now. We have time.”
Wade has spent a lot of quality time on the basketball court with his eldest son Zaire, a 16-year-old junior and budding basketball star at Plantation American Heritage this summer. Wade said being around for Zaire, who accompanied him to Orlando, and the rest of his children and wife, actress Gabrielle Union, are important in his decision-making process.
“Even when you talk about China, I have a big brand in China. It would be smart for me to grow my brand, right?” Wade said hinting that continuing to play in the NBA would accomplish that. “But my son is a junior in high school. And there’s other things. I already did something that was for me when I went [back home] to Chicago and [played there for a season].
“So, now, I’ve got to do what’s right for my family. For me, no matter what, what’s right for my family is being in Miami — whether that’s playing the game of basketball or not. My son, right now, I want to give him from a basketball standpoint everything I can from a knowledge standpoint — to give him an opportunity where he can be where he wants to be. And I have other kids as well. [I’m] just trying to be smart and be there for the ones that supported me my whole career. I want to be in a position where I’m there to support them. My wife is about to start at TV show in L.A., etc. I just want to be in the position where I make the right decision to be able to support them that’s best. So, that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Wade, who led the Heat to its only playoff victory last season in Game 2 in Philadelphia with 28 points in 26 minutes, said he knows he can still help the Heat win. So, his decision will have nothing to do with diminished abilities or age.
“It’s not a talent thing,” he said with a smile. “I’m obviously not young D-Wade, but I definitely could help a basketball team. Once I got traded back to Miami, they put me in a position that it’s Miami or nothing. If I wasn’t there, then it would be a different conversation. But I got traded back. At that time I knew I was going to be here this summer, where I was going to be in this situation.
“As much as I would love to be back, there’s so many different things you have to look at. My teammates have been great. The young guys you want to be there for them, but you also want to play. So, there’s a lot of different things that come into play with that. No matter what happens, you guys know me, I’m Miami Heat for life. I’ll always be there to make sure that organization continues to make strides whether I’m on the court or off the court.”
Wade, who has posted several videos of himself working out and training online this summer alongside Haslem and others, said he’s been keeping himself in good shape in case he decides to return.
“I don’t think I’ve been working really, really hard. I just think I’ve been working out. It becomes a lifestyle,” he said. “So for me, that’s just what I’m doing. It’s that time of the year. For as long as I can remember this time of the year is when you start getting into the mindset. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t think we’re at that point yet. I just have the mindset of getting my mind and my body and prepared. Whether I’m playing this year or I’m not, I will be prepared to play. I’ll make sure that I’m going to stay ready. Everything else from the business side of things and what I decide to do and what the Miami Heat decide to do [has] yet to be seen. We’ll get there at some point and everybody will know eventually. But today as we sit here, we’re not there yet.”
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