With the Sept. 25 start of training camp inching closer, the Miami Heat still has one open spot on its 20-man preseason roster.
It will remain open as Dwyane Wade decides whether to retire or return for a 16th NBA season. And on Thursday night, Wade made it clear that he still hasn’t made up his mind.
“I wish I had that answer for you. I don’t have it today,” Wade said alongside Heat forward Udonis Haslem during an appearance to celebrate their new restaurant, 800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen, in Aventura that’s scheduled to open Sept. 20.
Wade does know if he decides to continue his playing career, it will be with the Heat.
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“I don’t want to pack my bags to go nowhere,” said Wade, who turns 37 in January. “My family is here, my kids are growing. If I’m not wearing a Miami Heat jersey next year, I’ll be wearing it underneath one of my sweaters or jackets.”
When asked if a decision will come before the start of training camp, Wade answered: “Whichever day the decision comes, it comes. And that’s the right day, whatever day that is.”
Miami has 19 players under contract for its training camp roster, one shy of the league limit. With the final spot reserved for Wade, the Heat has to cut its roster down to 15 before its Oct. 17 season opener against the Orlando Magic.
With the current 19-man roster — including 13 players under fully guaranteed contracts that combine to cost about $129 million — the Heat is above the $101.9 million salary cap threshold and already past the $123.7 million luxury tax line.
Since the Heat is already capped out, financial negotiations with the 12-time All-Star shouldn’t be an issue. Miami’s options to bring him back are limited to a $2.4 million veteran league minimum deal or the $5.3 million Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception, and it’s expected to take the $5.3 million exception to re-sign Wade.
But Wade’s return will cost the Heat more than just his actual contract value. Since Miami is already over the luxury tax line, it will have to pay a tax on Wade’s deal.
The Heat is currently about $4 million over the $123.7 million tax threshold (only $1.5 million of Haslem’s $2.4 million salary counts against the luxury tax due to salary-cap rules). If it takes the $5.3 million exception to re-sign Wade as expected, the Heat would be faced with a tax bill of about $14.5 million on top of the team salary.
NBA teams have until the end of the regular season to find a way to get under the tax line before they receive the bill.
“If he asked me if I want him back, I’m going to say, ‘Yeah,’’” said Haslem, who signed a veteran’s minimum deal to return to the Heat for a 16th season last week. “But am I going to put pressure on him to come back? No, I would never put pressure on him to come back.”