The Miami Heat, feeling good about its current roster, is very much at peace with Dwyane Wade’s decision to sign with Cleveland after securing a buyout from the Chicago Bulls.
We’re told the Heat never thought it was likely that Wade would return this season, always believing he was Cleveland-bound.
And though there was interest from Miami, there was never full agreement inside the Heat about whether this was even a good idea for a multitude of reasons:
1) The Heat has considerable backcourt depth, so creating minutes would have been a challenge.
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2) There were concerns about fitting an aging neon name into a team that went 30-11 in the second half of last season and how it would affect chemistry.
3) Wade’s defense last season was viewed as a serious concern by at least one Heat official.
4) Though Wade can still get to the basket, his efficiency declined last season (his 43.4 percent shooting percentage was by far the worst in his career) and as a 29 percent three-point shooter, he doesn’t space the floor like the guards who helped the Heat achieve so much success in the second half of last season.
Wade’s decision had nothing to do with the awkwardness of his divorce with the Heat last summer. Fences have been mended, and the idea of playing here again later in his career still appeals to Wade, according to an associate.
Instead, this was all about Wade’s desire to play significant minutes on a championship contender. He can do that in Cleveland and play with buddy LeBron James, as a bonus.
One interesting angle to this story is this: When Wade rejected the Heat’s two-year, $41.5 million offer 15 months ago - believing the Heat owed him more - he thought he was leaving for $6.5 million more over the course over those two seasons by taking a two-year, $48 million offer from Chicago.
But Wade ended up sacrificing $8 million as part of his Bulls buyout.
So between the $39.5 million he will make from Chicago, and the $2.3 million he will get from Cleveland, Wade will make $41.8 million over last season and this season -- barely more than the $41.5 million he could have received by staying in Miami, an offer he found upsetting and unacceptable at the time.
And Wade actually lost in money in the deal, considering Florida has no state income tax and Illinois and Ohio do.
Plus, the Heat could have surpassed the cap next summer to give Wade a sizable contract if it chose.
Cleveland cannot, because he won’t have Bird Rights with the Cavaliers.
So was it worth $300,000 - pocket change for Wade - to leave Miami and eliminate the opportunity to achieve the unique legacy of being a Hall of Fame player to play his entire career for one team, like Kobe Bryant did?
Only Wade knows that, and the story isn’t fully written yet. If he wins a title in Cleveland, perhaps his pride-driven decision to leave the Heat last summer would be justified in his mind. But the Cavaliers seem unlikely to do that, with Golden State clearly the better team.
For all of Wade’s greatness, a case could be made that this worked out better for Miami. If Wade had stayed, there would be no cap space last season for Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson or the opportunity to keep them this year.
If you are the Heat, would you trade Wade now for Waiters, James Johnson, Ellington and Tyler Johnson? Of course.
So maybe this worked out well for everybody, Wade’s decision both last summer and now, even though Wade remains the one of the five most important people in South Florida sports history and even though emotions can cloud logic.
So don’t resent Wade for going to Cleveland; it’s the best choice for him considering his priorities.
The Heat certainly doesn’t, and for reasons that make a lot of sense.