As the end of August approaches and training camp continues to loom closer, the Miami Heat is still waiting on Dwyane Wade’s decision on whether he’ll return for a 16th NBA season or opt to retire.
Heat president Pat Riley, in attendance at a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for the Miami HEAT Sports Medicine Center at Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute in Coral Gables, said the team’s hope for the 12-time All-Star remains the same.
“We want him back,” Riley said.
It’s just a matter of when Wade makes his decision. Riley, who just returned from a vacation on Italy’s Amalfi Coast with Heat owner Micky Arison, said he has been in communication with Wade’s agent Leon Rose.
The Heat, which is already 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 Udonis Haslem until they decide if they are returning. Wade said earlier this month that he’s in no rush to reach a decision.
“We’re giving him space,” Riley said. “We know what we have up front. We know our young guys and we need to anchor our young team with a veteran presence of the both of them.”
Riley’s expectation is that discussions with Wade will ramp up by Labor Day.
“I think that’s always sort of the drop-dead date for players,” he said.
Wade has said on multiple occasions since being traded back to Miami in February that if he were to continue his NBA career, it would only be with the Heat.
So does that mean the Heat is willing to give Wade the team’s $5.3 million mid-level exception if it comes down to it? Riley wouldn’t commit to that.
“I don’t think this is about negotiating a mid-level or dollars. It’s about getting Dwyane back,” Riley said. “It’s not really about the tax right now even though we have a tax situation. We can work our way around that. We have 14 months or 12 months to deal with the situation. We just want to get started, get back on the floor. It’s been five months. Get to training camp, play our preseason games and start the season.
“We want Dwyane to be part of that.”
Riley wants Haslem back, too.
And if Riley’s gut feeling is right, he will see Haslem back on the roster for his 16th season.
“I have a real good feeling UD is going to be back,” Riley said. “There hasn’t been any announcement on that. It’s just a gut feeling about UD and what he wants to do. It’ll be a very awkward feeling for me after all these years of having him on the roster and not having him here. So I feel good that he’s in and we’ll just wait on D-Wade.”
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