Like LeBron James before him, Dwyane Wade has decided to leave the Miami Heat and head home.
The Miami Herald has confirmed multiple reports that the 34-year-old has agreed to sign a two-year, $47.5 million deal with his hometown Chicago Bulls, pending the completion of trades that would clear cap space.
Wade, in a letter to Miami released to The Associated Press, said: “I look back with pride and amazement at all we have accomplished together.”
The departure of Wade — a 12-time All-Star, future Hall of Famer and the face of the franchise — ends a 13-year run with the Heat. Miami won three NBA titles and made five trips to the Finals with him as its leader.
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But the relationship ended on bad terms with Wade, team president Pat Riley and the Heat squabbling over his contract.
Owner Micky Arison, who was able to mend the fences a year ago when Riley and Wade were at an impasse, met with Wade in New York on Wednesday to try and smooth things over. But it didn’t work.
Wade, who will cohost the syndicated TV show Live With Kelly at 9 a.m. Thursday, balked at the Heat’s initial offer of two years and $40 million Monday. He was seeking more money and another year in a potential deal.
The Herald learned that the Heat did not increase its initial offer to Wade.
Although Miami could have tried to trade forward Josh McRoberts, and the remaining two years and $11.8 million left on his contract, to offer Wade a two-year deal worth $50 million, finding a taker might have required the Heat giving up a first-round draft pick — or even 20-year-old talent Justise Winslow.
The Bulls, who didn’t meet with Wade in New York, began ramping up their efforts to sway him back home late Wednesday night, according to Yahoo! Sports’ The Vertical.
Chicago, which courted Wade back in 2010, ended up trading Jose Calderon to the Lakers and forward Mike Dunleavy to the Cavaliers, according to The Vertical, to clear up additional cap space to pay Wade.
In Chicago it will mark the first time in Wade's career he's the highest paid player on his team.
The Denver Nuggets, who had the most to offer Wade financially and dangled a two-year, $52 million deal in front of him, left their 2 1/2-hour meeting with Wade feeling good about their chances, according to the Denver Post. Former Heat teammate Mike Miller was part of the Nuggets’ pitch team along with members of the front office. The Post, though, reported the Nuggets did not want to include a third year in the deal.
Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry also met with Wade in New York on Wednesday according to The Vertical. But the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported the meeting lasted just one hour and since the team hadn’t been able to create more salary cap space, a deal with Wade was not expected.
Thursday, the end of the league’s moratorium, is the first day free agents can sign contracts. The Heat, which has $20 million in cap space, can formally sign center Hassan Whiteside to the four-year, $98 million max contract he agreed to last Friday.
Once Whiteside signs, the Heat would have seven players under contract for next season — including forwards Chris Bosh, McRoberts, Winslow and guards Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson and Briante Weber.
With Wade gone, Miami can now turn its attention to other free agents and potentially guard Tyler Johnson, who agreed to sign a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets over the weekend.
NBA Salary Cap
Roster slots (min.)
Dwyane Wade $30M
Udonis Haslem $5.4M
Tyler Johnson $1.18M
Amar’e Stoudemire $980K
Gerald Green $980K
Dorell Wright $980K
Cap holds total $39.5M
▪ The Heat also has a Room Mid-Level Exception worth $2.898 million it can use in 2016-17 to sign a player which does not count against the cap.
▪ Unused roster slots are placeholders on the roster taken into account when establishing cap room. For instance, the Heat has seven players on its roster for next season and must at the very least sign five players to rookie league minimum ($543K) to fill out its roster to the league minimum of 12.
▪ League salary cap for 2017-18 and beyond are projected numbers
▪ Whiteside’s deal will not become official until he signs after the league moratorium ends on Thursday
▪ McRoberts has a player option for 2017-18 and Dragic has a player option for 2019-20
▪ Miami owns team options for Winslow in 2017-18 and 2018-19
▪ ichardson and Weber's deals are not guaranteed, but Richardson received a full guarantee after Aug. 1. Weber's contract is partially guaranteed ($218,659) for next season.
▪ 2016-17 league minimum based on years in the NBA: Rookie ($543K); 1 year ($875K); 2 years ($980K); 3 years ($1.01M); 4 years ($1.05M); 5 years ($1.14M); 6 years ($1.23M); 7 years ($1.32M); 8 years ($1.40M); 9 years ($1.41M); 10-plus ($1.55M)