The most vocal advocate for Dwyane Wade’s return to the Heat?
Curiously, the player who replaced him in Miami’s lineup.
Dion Waiters, who talked to me in March about his admiration for the longtime Heat star, has spent the past several days implying his interest in a Wade reunion with the Heat, or retweeting those who have said it directly.
Wade is under contract to the Bulls next season and Bulls officials said recently that there has been no discussion of a buyout of his contract, which will pay him $24 million this season.
But with the Bulls rebuilding, nobody would be surprised if the Bulls and Wade agree to a buyout in January or February.
Players who are on an NBA roster next season must be released by March 1 to be playoff-eligible with another team.
While the Heat had no interest in bringing back Wade on a big-money deal, there likely would be Heat interest in Wade at a lower salary. Miami’s level of interest would depend, in part, on need at the time.
Miami is loaded at guard, with five veteran players, but has not ruled out a Wade return at some point.
The Heat still has available a $4.3 million exception and could also sign any players to a minimum deal. Heat president Pat Riley said last week that he’s inclined to hold onto the exception but obviously did not mention Wade or any other player.
Wade, if he’s bought out, would have numerous options, including a potential reunion with LeBron James in Cleveland.
Waiters told me in March that he would reach out to Wade this offseason to ask Wade for tips to improve his game.
“We've got the same initials, our games are similar,” Waiters said. “Difference is, he's got them three rings. He's a Finals MVP. Top three best shooting guards all time. I'm chasing that. He's one of my favorite players, one of the players I idolized my game after. When he's playing against me, I'm checking things he's doing.
“Hopefully, one of these summers, we can get together and he can teach me some of the tricks of the trade of getting fouled more. I am definitely going to reach out to him to see if I can propel my game to a new level. That’s what the best players do. You see Kobe [Bryant] with Michael [Jordan]. A lot of guys go to Hakeem Olajuwon to learn. D-Wade’s my guy, one of the best players to ever play the game. It's always been little brother, big brother from afar. I want to pick his brain.”
Among Waiters’ four tweets about Wade over the past few days:
One person asked Waiters “is there enough space on @dionwaiters3 island for Wade County?” Responded Waiters: “Yu Damn right any day of the week.”
Waiters then retweeted a picture of he and Wade standing side by side, as Heat teammates.
And then there was this amusing tweet that Waiters and Wade retweeted.
Wade helped lead the Heat to three championships in 13 years with Miami but signed with the Bulls as a free agent a year ago after he was unable to reach an agreement with Miami on a new contract.
Wade, 35, averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists for Chicago last season.
“Dwyane, he's going to have an important role on this team as a mentor," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told The Chicago Tribune earlier this month. "He's going to obviously play for us and hopefully play well. And take the role of leadership; it's going to be very important with him."
According to ESPN, the odds are "very high" Wade will finish next season in Chicago, but buyout talks could surface later.