The door is now open for Dwyane Wade to come back to the Miami Heat.
The Chicago Bulls and the 35-year-old, 12-time All-Star reached an agreement on a contract buyout late Sunday night and the Heat, Spurs and Cavaliers are among his preferred destinations according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski – with Cleveland and former teammate LeBron James perhaps the favorite.
“I have a list of places that I will look at,” Wade told the Chicago Tribune late Sunday night. “My phone is blowing up at this moment. What it’s about for me is looking at the right role. I feel I can still play.
“I just felt it was time for me, turning 36, that I want to be competing for a championship. I said when I got here, it was always a dream for me to play here. And getting that opportunity was special. And I can’t even say it wasn’t what everyone expected because we went to the playoffs. And trying to restore this franchise to respectability was our goal. The organization decided to go in a different direction, which I respect.”
The Heat has interest in Wade, sources have said, but he may have better fits elsewhere especially if his role, as he said Sunday night, is the most important factor. He would have to accept a bench role with the Heat.
Oklahoma City, which acquired Wade’s close friend Carmelo Anthony via trade on Saturday, could also have interest Wojnarowski reported.
Wade reportedly gave back at least $8 million of his $23.8 million salary to reach the buyout agreement.
Of the four teams, the Heat has the most money to offer Wade (a $4.3 million exception) with San Antonio ($3.3M) and Cleveland ($2.5) offering only a little more than what Wade would make being paid the veteran’s minimum ($2.3M). Oklahoma City, already deep into the luxury tax, can only offer Wade the veteran’s minimum.
While several Heat players (Udonis Haslem, Hassan Whiteside, Wayne Ellington, Dion Waiters) have expressed their desire in having Wade return to South Florida where he won three NBA titles before leaving for Chicago in the 2016 offseason, Miami already has five guards on its roster in Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington who played heavy minutes last season and are slotted into important roles.
Heat president Pat Riley was asked about the Heat’s potential interest in Wade last Friday amid reports he could eventually reach a buyout with the Bulls, who traded away All-Star Jimmy Butler and are in the midst of a rebuild. Riley, 72, danced around the question.
“I feel great about our relationship that we had over the 13 years,” Riley said. “Anything that happens from a personnel standpoint down the road or any opportunities that are there, we’re always going to approach that. But right now he's under contract with Chicago and I wish him the very best. Did I finesse that enough for you?”
Wade told NBA TV’s David Aldridge earlier this month he would like to play for a championship contender before he retires.
“First of all, obviously, everyone wants to compete,” Wade said. “It’s no secret. We would all love to compete for a championship at the end of my career. That is one thing I would love to do. I’m not in a position right now to do that, so I can’t talk about what that preference is. Hopefully, one day before I’m done playing this game, I can be back in position to compete for a championship.”
Does Wade regret leaving Miami?
“No, I don’t regret it at all,” Wade told the Chicago Tribune late Sunday night. “I left Miami last summer because it wasn’t the place that I felt wanted me to be there the same way I wanted to be there. I gave everything I had for those 13 years in Miami. What I wanted back in return, I didn’t feel I got.
“That decision I made gave me an opportunity to live a dream out. You could ask a normal fan if they got an opportunity to wear that jersey of their favorite team growing up and play for it, they're take it. So I don’t regret it. You learn from every decision. Were there things I missed in Miami I missed? Of course. We built a lot in 13 years. That can’t be replaced anywhere.”