Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade joining LeBron in Cleveland is a rumor — for now

Rumors of a LeBron James-Dwyane Wade reunion in Cleveland would only happen if James agreed to take less money on his next contract.
Rumors of a LeBron James-Dwyane Wade reunion in Cleveland would only happen if James agreed to take less money on his next contract. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

The Internet exploded Monday with rumors that Dwyane Wade was on a plane with LeBron James and Dan Gilbert, possibly to consummate a deal.

The Herald has researched this, however, and can confidently shoot that down.

Wade has been in Spain, and was scheduled to fly back early Tuesday afternoon.

Now, that doesn’t mean everything is great with the Heat.

Wade and the Heat are still at an impasse and have not agreed to the deal the Heat has offered.

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That deal (two years, $40 million with a second-year option) is the same that the Mavericks have agreed upon with franchise cornerstone Dirk Nowitzki.

Wade, however, is nearly three years younger.

So what’s happening and what’s next?

Here’s what the Herald has learned, from speaking to a variety of sources during the past 24 hours:

▪ Wade and the Heat are not on great terms. That is coming from both sides. “Ugly” has been the common descriptor. Wade did not feel like the Heat prioritized him. ... again. The Heat wanted Wade to be patient, while it was securing Hassan Whiteside and trying to land Kevin Durant.

▪ Wade will take his time to make a decision. It might not be in next day or so. It is fully expected that he will take meetings once back in the United States.

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▪ The Bucks’ meeting, set for Wednesday, is currently off. But everything is subject to change.

▪ Wade wants two more seasons. The Heat is concerned about the implications of the over-36 rule (greater explanation of that to come). It is possible, but certainly not definite, that the Heat and Wade could compromise on a two-year deal for more than $40 million, though that would require clearing Josh McRoberts’ salary of the cap.

▪ And yes, joining LeBron James in Cleveland is an option. Among a few still, and “a long shot” due to the economics, according to a source, but definitely an option. The Cavaliers don’t currently have anything other than the taxpayer midlevel to offer ($3.48 million), which would be a huge reduction in pay. So they would need to make multiple deals to accommodate more salary. Or James would need to take a historically large cut, which wouldn’t sit well with the players’ union, but maybe he doesn’t care about that. He repeatedly told me, when I was covering the Cavaliers during the 2014-15 season, how much he missed Wade. That might be priceless.

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But Heat fans should be concerned.

This is officially more dangerous than last season. It’s two offseasons of bad feelings.

And for Wade, my perception — based on knowledge of him and my recent reporting — is that it will come down to whether he puts the biggest premium on winning and friendship (and can also stick it to the Heat in the process) by choosing Cleveland, or whether he wants to take the most money from a place like Denver.

The Heat appears to be somewhere in the middle.

Miami, which has lost two starters already, might not be a championship contender even with Wade.

And Wade might still be able to get more money, or years, elsewhere.

So yes, the fans might be the ones squashed.

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