Dwyane Wade was hoping his contract negotiations with the Miami Heat would go smoother than they did a year ago.
“I hope everything for myself is quiet and everything works out the way I want it to, whatever that is,” Wade said a day after the Toronto Raptors ended the Heat’s season in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. “But I have no control over that as much as people would think. You have no control how that is necessarily is going to go.”
Apparently, the Heat and the future Hall of Famer have gotten off on the wrong foot once again.
ESPN reported late Tuesday that Wade’s representatives have made it known to multiple teams over the past several days that the 12-time All-Star, currently vacationing in Spain with former Olympic teammates LeBron James and Chris Paul, will be on the market when free agency opens at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
The report said Wade’s preliminary discussions with the Heat had not produced a common ground between the parties and Wade was preparing to field outside offers.
Last summer, a similar situation played out before owner Micky Arison stepped in and Wade and the Heat agreed to a one-year, $20 million deal. But Wade, who has won three titles with Miami and been to five Finals, wasn’t happy the process took as long as it did.
Although the free agency period does not open for a couple of more days, teams are allowed to have contact with their own impending free agents.
Center Hassan Whiteside, who is expected to receiver hefty contract offers from the Mavericks, Lakers and Blazers, said Sunday he had already met with Heat president Pat Riley and was hoping to iron out a deal quickly with whatever team he signed with.
Wade, 34, has been traveling all over the world the past few weeks, attending fashion shows in Paris most recently before his vacation in Spain.
The Heat, which has an estimated $42 million in available salary-cap space, is in a precarious position as free agency is set to begin. Not only is the team courting the top free agent out there in Kevin Durant (Miami is one of six teams reportedly scheduled to meet with the former league MVP in New York shortly after the free agency period begins), but the Heat has much in the way of competition to re-sign its own free agents and not a lot of financial space to do it all.
The Heat has only six players under contract for next season: forwards Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow and guards Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson and Briante Weber. Bosh, an 11-time All-Star, didn’t play in the second half of the season for the second year in a row as he battled blood clots in his leg, and his future remains unclear.
Last month Riley said keeping Whiteside was the Heat’s No. 1 priority this summer. But to do that, it will likely take a maximum contract offer (four years, $94 million) and convincing Whiteside that he’ll have a larger role with the team. For most of the second half of the season, Whiteside was coming off the bench.
As for Wade, who is coming off a stellar, healthy regular season and playoff run, it appears his camp is saying there also will not be any home-team discounts for his services.
After battling knee issues in LeBron James’ final two seasons with the Heat, Wade played in 74 games last season — his most since 2010-11 — and averaged 19 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists. Then, he took his game to another level in the playoffs, averaging 21.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and shooting 52.2 percent from three-point range.
Riley said last month the Heat would try and make negotiations go smoother with Wade this summer.
“He wants to win I think as much as he wants to do anything,” Riley said. “Compensation to a player is not just a way to get paid and live your life. Compensation to a player is about recognition and respect and a place. And so, we know where he belongs.
“When we get down and discuss it will be predicated on a lot of factors. He’s a lifer. What he’s done in this city over the last 13 years is irreplaceable. So, we want to do the right thing. There’s no doubt.”
As it stands, Wade is one of three highly coveted shooting guards available this summer. Others include younger models in Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan and the Wizards’ Bradley Beal.
DeRozan, 26, reportedly wants to resign with Toronto, where he could receive a bigger payout. Beal, 23, is a restricted free agent, but could get a maximum offer from a team desperate to pry him away from Washington.
It’s unclear which teams in the NBA would make a play for Wade considering his age.
Most title contenders don’t have a need at shooting guard.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, who just won the NBA title with James, Wade’s close friend, are the most cash-strapped team in the league when it comes to the salary cap. Miami, ultimately, can offer him the most in the way of money.