Cleveland Cavaliers and former Heat guard Dwyane Wade said Wednesday night that he would “love” to finish his career in Miami.
“I have thought about it of course,” said Wade, who spent the first 13 years of his career with the Heat before playing last season in Chicago and this season in Cleveland. “I wouldn’t lie and say I haven’t. When that opportunity comes, that day comes, hopefully, I can go out in a Miami Heat jersey. I don’t know how it will be but I would love it.”
The potential options would be playing a final season in Miami or signing a ceremonial one-day contract to retire with the Heat, as Paul Pierce did with Boston.
Which would be his preference?
“I don’t know,” he said before the Heat played the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. “For me, I’m at the point where you get this high up in years played in the NBA, you kind of take the summer to think about what you want as a player and go from there. For me, the arena that I walked in to play, I would like to leave in. How it’s done, I don’t know. I can’t predict the future. If it’s a Paul Pierce situation or just playing, I don’t know. But I definitely would like to walk out the same way I came in.”
Wade, 36, who will be a free agent this offseason, is thoroughly impressed with how the Heat has played.
“Last year, they were trying to find themselves early in the season and they did later,” he said. “They found their identity.
Everyone on the team that came there understood what it was going to take to win in that environment, in that culture. And they continued it throughout the year.
“Just like every team, there are games there are people feel they should win that they lost, and games people feel they should win and won. This team plays hard. They’re consistent with their game for the most part. That’s going to get them a lot of wins. I’m impressed with the guys, J-Rich [Josh Richardson] and taking that step to the next level. Tyler [Johnson], playing amazing. I’m happy for those guys. But I expect it. I expect those guys to play the way they are.”
On coach Erik Spoelstra, Wade said: “He never gets the credit. I’m not saying he’s looking for it. He didn’t get credit when we were winning championships and going to Finals. It’s not easy to have success in this league. Last year, everyone thought he should have been Coach of the Year for what he was able to do. For what they’re doing this year, he’s right back up there in that conversation. He’s a great coach. He’s one of the best in our game. Those players who play their whole career there one day will be happy to know they were coached by a great coach.”
Despite the unevenness of Cleveland’s play, Wade said he has enjoyed this season playing with buddy LeBron James.
“I smile just as much as anybody in here,” he said. “I’m enjoying the game. Team success is obviously the ultimate thing. But throughout the year, you have to find a joy. You can’t let losses and all these things really take your joy away from playing.
“I can’t play this game forever, so I’m definitely just enjoying the process. I’m enjoying being in the locker room with these veteran guys. Losses, going on a losing streak sucks like any team. But I definitely enjoy it.”
Has this season been at all like the fourth season of the Big Three era in Miami?
“No,” he said. “Totally different. There’s just a new group of guys that have to deal with learning how to play together. We’ve had to deal with injuries and amongst all that, we started off bad and then we went hot and now we’ve hit a rut. With all of that being said, we’re still right there in the top of the East with the top teams.
“It’s totally different. Back then [with Miami], that was a team that went to the Finals four years in a row. To just have that, let’s come in every day and our goal is just get to the Finals. But it’s the every day that you got to come in to get back to that point, when you know you’re good enough to get there. But it’s just a little boredom that set in, just what you have to do every day just to get back where you felt you could get to. This is a team trying to find an identity, trying to mesh together. Now we’re losing Kevin Love and now we have to figure something else out. There’s many different challenges, but it’s a challenge.”