Count NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas among those hoping Dwyane Wade doesn’t retire. Wade, 36, hasn’t informed the Heat of his plans for next season.
“I would hope that he plays until the last drop of jump shot is left in him,” Thomas said before calling a summer league game on NBA TV this past week.
Why? Thomas said not only is Wade still fun to watch, but “when you talk about retiring, get it all out of your system. He can still play. He will be able to play until he’s 40 if he wants to. It’s just a matter of if he wants to.”
How will Wade rank historically among shooting guards?
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“In that realm, definitely in the top five that’s ever played the position,” Thomas said. “You can argue between two and four where he falls. Remarkable career and remarkable man.”
Michael Jordan is considered the best shooting guard in NBA history, with Kobe Bryant, Jerry West and Wade likely two through four in some order, and Clyde Drexler, combo guard Allen Iverson, George Gervin, Reggie Miller, Earl Monroe and Ray Allen all making a strong case to rank in the top 10.
The University of Miami has seven former players competing in the Las Vegas summer league, with none more ballyhooed than Lonnie Walker, selected 18th overall by San Antonio in last month’s draft.
Walker shot only 34 percent in four games in Las Vegas (18 for 53) but flashed his considerable athleticism before sustaining a sprained right ankle that sidelined him for the Spurs’ final game on Friday. X-rays were negative.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun to get him in San Antonio,” Spurs summer league coach Will Hardy told me Friday. “Lonnie is a sponge. He is trying to learn a new system and a whole new set of terminology, and he’s doing it with a smile on his face every day and just trying to improve. Spurs fans will love watching him play.”
What stands out from an NBA skill standpoint, Hardy said, is “his athleticism and ability to get to the rim. He has a scoring nature and he’s going to be a heck of a player at the offensive end. He has the ability to be a great defender. And that’s obviously a huge part of our program.”
Yahoo’s Jordan Schultz quoted an NBA basketball operations official as saying this about Walker: “He’s been the best player in Vegas. He can score. He’s a great athlete. Plus, he’s strong and he’s aware. He knows what’s going on out there. I think he’s going to be a star.”
Walker will make $5 million in salary over the next two seasons and signed a lucrative sneaker deal with Adidas, according to the Associated Press.
Beyond Walker, other Canes playing in summer league include Detroit’s Bruce Brown (shot just 29 percent in summer league — a poor 21 for 73 — but averaged 7.3 rebounds), Phoenix’s Davon Reed (averaged 3.0 points in 21 NBA games as a rookie; averaged 13.4 points on 49 percent shooting during a good summer league performance), Dallas’ Manu Lecomte (finished his career at Baylor and shot 10 for 15 in summer league), Golden State’s Rion Brown, the Spurs’ Trey-McKinney Jones and Brooklyn’s Kamari Murphy.
Former Heat guard James Jones, now the Suns’ vice president of basketball operations, has a special place in his heart for Reed, a fellow UM alum.
“He’s talented in a bunch of different ways,” Jones said. “He’s physical, he’s vocal, he’s athletic, he can shoot it. High character.”
NBA summer league ends with the Lakers-Portland championship game on Tuesday night.