But someday, Dwyane Wade is planning to come back to the Miami Heat.
Wade, who signed a one-year contract Wednesday night to join LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers after his contract was bought out by the Chicago Bulls, told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that he wants to one day end his career wearing a Heat jersey.
“Miami, the door’s always unlocked,” Wade told AP. “One day, I want to retire in a Miami Heat jersey. I don’t know how that will happen, but I definitely want to make sure that when I decide to hang it up, that jersey is on. Whether it’s being back there or signing a one-day deal like Paul Pierce, I want to make sure that I go out the way I came in.”
Wade, 35, left more than $8 million on the table of the $23.8 million he was owed this season to part ways with the Bulls late Sunday night. He cleared waivers on Wednesday.
He reached a deal shortly thereafter with the Cavaliers for a veteran minimum contract of $2.3 million for this season. He did consider a return to the Heat, which had more money (a $4.3 million exception) to offer than other suitors, which included Oklahoma City, San Antonio and defending champion Golden State (which reportedly called Wade’s reps).
Wade said he decided on Cleveland with the blessing of his wife, Gabrielle Union Wade, and his oldest son, Zaire.
“When it comes down to big decisions like this, there’s two people I listen to: Her name is Gabrielle Union Wade and his name is Zaire Wade,” Wade told AP. “I listen to Zaire and my wife and try to see what they feel and what they want. Zaire told me just like this: ‘Dad, I would love to have you here and be around more. But I want you to go get your fourth ring.’ ”
The Heat was mildly interested in Wade’s return, but in a bench role. Ultimately, that wasn’t enough to attract him.
The Miami Herald reported earlier this week, however, that despite their interest, the Heat was at peace with Wade’s decision not to return at this time since the franchise is happy with its current roster situation.
Wade told AP that he didn’t feel like he was needed right now by the Heat. Dion Waiters leads a deep shooting guard group along with Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder, Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington.
“I feel that those guys are in a good place,” Wade said of the Heat. “They deserve to come back this year and see what that 30-11 was about. They don’t need me there over their shoulder or anything like that. That’s kind of how I approached it.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday he’ll just have to get used to seeing Wade in a new uniform — like he did last year.
“Every time I see Dwyane in a different uniform, it makes me uncomfortable. It never looks right,” Spoelstra said. “It certainly didn’t look right in a Chicago uniform. I can’t even visualize [him in a Cavs uniform].”
Ultimately, a Wade return to South Florida will always be welcome — whether it’s just as a visitor or back in a Heat uniform.
“I haven’t spoken to him about it yet,” Heat captain Udonis Haslem said of Wade and his decision to go to Cleveland. “I’ve been busy with the task at hand of getting these guys ready for what we’ve got to do.
“But there’s no love lost. Dwyane is always going to be my brother. I’m always going to support whatever decision he makes on or off the basketball court.”
Haslem, who played 13 years alongside Wade and won three NBA titles with him, said he was unaware Wade had said he wants to end his career in a Heat jersey.
“For sure, [I want him to],” Haslem said. “He knows how I feel about him. Our relationship goes beyond the game of basketball. As a brother, I support his decision. Whether I like it, whether I agree with it, whether I’m frustrated about it, it really doesn’t matter. You take sides with your brother and you support him.”
▪ Waiters, who missed the final 13 games of last season with a badly sprained left ankle, said Thursday he considered switching from low-top to mid-top sneakers this summer to provide more support for his ankle. But it just never felt right, so he’s sticking with low-tops for the upcoming season.
▪ Tickets for Saturday morning’s scrimmage at FAU are sold out.
▪ The Heat is urging fans to make sure they bring their mobile devices to Sunday’s preseason home opener against the Atlanta Hawks. Miami switched to a mobile-only entry system for this coming season.