Heat Check

Wade on his return to the Heat: ‘I’m going to stay here until I decide to hang it up.’

Dwyane Wade takes the court for the first time after returning to the Heat as Miami plays the Milwaukee Bucks at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida, Feb. 9, 2018.
Dwyane Wade takes the court for the first time after returning to the Heat as Miami plays the Milwaukee Bucks at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida, Feb. 9, 2018. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Dwyane Wade said he’s done wearing the uniforms of any NBA team not named the Miami Heat.

After playing his first game in a Heat uniform in more than 20 months Friday night, Wade, 36, told NBA TV after the Heat’s 91-85 victory over Milwaukee that this second go-around with the Heat will be the final stop of his career.

“This is it for me guys,” Wade told former player and current NBA TV analyst Grant Hill. “I’m [going to] stay here until I decide to hang it up. This is home. I’m so happy to be back.”

The Heat sent a heavily protected second round pick in 2024 to Cleveland to reacquire Wade on Thursday after the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions decided to blow up their roster — and a bad locker room — with three separate trades. With the Cavs, Wade was coming off the bench for the first time in his career and averaging 11.2 points, 3.5 assists while shooting 45.5 percent over 23.2 minutes per game.

Wade, who signed a two-year, $47 million deal two summers ago when he left the Heat before he and the Bulls reached a buyout after one season to clear his path to Cleveland, will be a free agent this summer. The Heat is already capped out (barring any trades), but could offer Wade an exception to keep him around. Heat team president Pat Riley said Thursday he thinks Wade still has a lot gas left in the tank.

Wade was clearly happy to be back in Miami. It’s where he’s made a home and where his children go to school.

Friday, Wade said he needed “a lot of tickets” to hand out to family members. After the game, he was seen hugging his children courtside.

“My family, they’re happy. They’re not only happy for themselves, they’re happy for me,” Wade said. “Miami’s my family. I think as you’ve seen with the crowd, they’re happy. All is good in the Wade household and all is good in Wade County.”

Wade said it was weird being away from the Heat over the last 20 months. He kept track of the team, watched their highlights and every time he heard something on TV mentioning the Heat, Wade admitted he immediately felt like he was a part of it.

LeBron James noticed that in Cleveland, and it’s part of the reason why James said he’s happy Wade is back in Miami.

HEAT0210 WADESIGN CTJ
Miami Heat fans welcome back Dwyane Wade as the Heat plays the Milwaukee Bucks at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida, Feb. 9, 2018. CHARLES TRAINOR JR. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

“It’s right. It sounds right. It’s second nature,” Wade said. “I was telling somebody recently that I was in my kitchen in Cleveland and watching ESPN and something came up and it said Heat versus somebody and I said ‘We play?’ And [then] I’m like ‘That’s right I don't play in Miami no more.’ So it’s like a thing — every time I see Heat in my mind it was always like ‘We.’ So, it definitely feels good to be here, to be in the locker room.”

And he sees big things for this team.

“We’ve got so much growth posibility here,” Wade said. “I’ve got so much to learn about these guys’ talents. I’m excited about it. Like I said, [Friday night] was definitely a good start. We did some good things and like I said we did some things we can learn from. It’s a young team that can get better.”

Wade said he’s more than comfortable accepting a role off the bench and playing mentor to the Heat’s young players. It’s something he got used to in Cleveland..

“I’ve adjusted to coming off [the bench],” Wade said. “For me, I like it. Right now, my career, with the time I’m at, and the point I’m at. If something happens and coach needs me to get in there to start for a game or two and calls my number, I’ll do it. But I’m definitely comfortable with [coming off the bench].”

Wade also said he has no problem playing fewer minutes than he used to play in his prime.

“The minutes I’m on the floor is the minutes I will play,” Wade said. “I will be better at those minutes as I get more comfortable with everything. I’m not really worried about it. I was playing 23 minutes before I got here and I played 22 [Friday]. I’m right around my season minutes that I played [in Cleveland]. You have to understand, when you’re coming to a new team, there’s somebody whose minutes has [gone] down because of you. That’s 22 minutes that I played, and somebody else didn’t. So I respect that and I understand that and I just want to be my best for that because I have taken a few minutes from someone else.

“As a leader and a player in this league, I want to do my best. I definitely want to do better next game. I look at the plus-minus these days and I don’t like the negative-3. So I have to do better than that the next time I step on the floor.”

Here is what Wade, 36, said in a press conference Friday morning on his first day back with the Miami Heat since being acquired in a trade from Cleveland before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.

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