Dwyane Wade is the Miami Heat. It is that simple. Wade has meant more to the Heat than any player in the history of the franchise. More than Alonzo Mourning. More than Tim Hardaway. More than Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Smith and Glen Rice combined. During the course of his 12-year NBA career – all with the Heat – Wade has helped deliver three championships to the city of Miami. He has battled through injuries. He has sacrificed for the betterment of the organization, leaving millions of dollars on the table. He has been the epitome of a team player.
The question is, how long can that last?
When will Wade finally say that he has had enough, and it is his time to be taken care of by a franchise who has almost taken advantage of him, at least in NBA financial and contractual terms. Maybe taken advantage is the wrong choice of words, as Wade has agreed to take less in order to hep keep the team’s key members together.
That may finally be about to change.
Wade can opt out of his contract with the Heat for the second consecutive summer and the third time in the past eight seasons. After watching LeBron James go back home to Cleveland and seeing Chris Bosh miss much of last season with an injury, even Wade could not lead the Heat to the NBA Playoffs. Miami is apparently gearing up for another big free agent run after next season but, is Wade willing to take less money one more time in order to possibly see the team improve to start the 2016 NBA season?
Entering his 13th professional season, even Wade must know that there is not much left. He does not have many more years to maximize his NBA worth. Agreeing to take less again may limit his late earning potential. While he clearly loves playing in Miami and representing the Heat, this is certainly far from a sure thing that Wade will re-sign with Miami for less money again.
So, if Wade is finally ready to leave South beach, where could he land? I can think of a few possibilities.
First, everybody is going to point to the New York Knicks. They will likely have enough money, they play in the greatest city in the world and the marketing possibilities are endless. Still, the Knicks are nowhere near contending for an NBA Championship and Wade may not want to simply play out the rest of his days for a losing team.
If Wade wants to go to a winning team in search of one or two more key players, what about the Los Angeles Clippers? The Clippers may have some free money, especially if DeAndre Jordan seeks a max-contract with a new team. Wade would have far less pressure on his shoulders, playing alongside Chris Paul and Blake Griffin plus, my guess is that he would enjoy playing for Doc Rivers.
While the Knicks and Clippers may be the most often rumored destinations, they are not the only ones. What if Wade decided that he wanted to return home? Could he see if the Chicago Bulls had an interest? That may depend on what Wade thinks about the Bulls’ hiring of Fred Hoiberg. Still, if Jimmy Butler leaves Chicago for a max offer from a new team, it could make sense for the Bulls to see if there is a mutual interest from Wade in returning home.
Finally, and this may be far-fetched, what if Wade was to reunite with King James in Cleveland? Wade took less for James to sign with the Heat. Would James take less for Wade to play with the Cavaliers? Especially, if Kevin Love does opt out of his contract with the Cavs this summer or next.
Perhaps, the Milwaukee Bucks or Washington Wizards could make a run at signing Wade, if he does opt out of his contract with the Heat. Or, what about the Memphis Grizzlies or New Orleans Pelicans? The bottom line is that while I do not think that Wade will leave Miami, for the first time, I at least see it as a possibility.