Future Hall of Fame guard Dwyane Wade made it clear a few weeks ago that if he suits up for the 2018-19 season, he'll only do so with the Miami Heat. Wade is an unrestricted free agent this summer and has yet to commit to Miami, but it seems he will soon talk with team president Pat Riley about what his intentions are.
Riley met with Miami-area media today at the groundbreaking for the Miami Heat Sports Medicine Center in Coral Gables. While he was there, he said he plans to meet with Wade soon. Here's more from Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
"We've been in constant communication with Leon Rose, his attorney. Now that I'm back, in town, and we're really ramping up for training camp, I know Dwyane's in California right now with the marketing team, getting ready for the season, so I'll have a conversation with him somewhere shortly.
"I texted him after he got his long-term deal with [Chinese apparel company] Li Ning. We want him back. He and Udonis, we want 'em back, but we're giving 'em space. We know our young guys and we need to anchor our young team with a veteran presence of the both of them."
If the Heat were to re-sign Wade, their salary cap position would mean they could offer him either the $5.3 million taxpayer mid-level exception and the $2.4 million veteran's minimum. Winderman notes that the difference between the options is significant, with signing Wade to the the $5.3 million taxpayer mid-level exception resulting in an actual cash outlay of $14.2 million in 2018-19. That is because, Winderman writes, the Heat would move into the second level of the tax multiplier.
A smaller contract for Wade, however, would allow the Heat to get out of the tax by the end of next season -- which is when the luxury tax is formally calculated.
When asked if the Heat were willing to offer Wade the mid-level, tax-payer exception to get Wade to re-sign, Riley said: "I don't think this is about negotiating a mid-level or dollars. It's about getting Dwyane back. It's not really about the tax right now, even though we have a tax situation.
"We'll work our way around that. We have 14 months or 12 months to deal with the situation. We just want to get started ... get back on the floor. It's been five months [since Miami's season ended] ... get to training camp, play our preseason games and start the season. We want Dwyane to be a part of that. All the business aspects of the tax and the cap, that's all part of the equation. Just get the team together."
As for a timeframe for this to all get done, Riley said, "Let's wait 'til after Labor Day. I think that's always sort of the drop-dead date for players."
Wade isn't the only Heat legend in free agency who is awaiting a possible return to Miami this summer. Reports recently circulated that the Heat and stalwart forward Udonis Haslem are moving toward a deal. If Haslem returns for '18-19, it would mark his 16th season in Miami. Riley sounded confident today about keeping Haslem in the fold, reports Winderman (via Twitter) and The Associated Press' Tim Reynolds (via Twitter).
Riley on Dwyane and UD: “I think we’ll get them done.”
Wade was wooed by a team in China with a lucrative contract this summer, but said last weekend, Wade made it clear that if he does play in 2018-19, it will only be for the Heat.
Earlier in the offseason, Haslem had said he would be open to playing overseas if he could not work out a deal with the Heat for next season. Haslem's role for Miami has steadily diminished over the last three seasons and in 2017-18, he logged career lows in minutes (5.1 per game), points (0.6), rebounds (0.7) and field goal percentage (20.0).
Undrafted in 2002, Haslem spent his first pro season in France before signing with the Heat as a free agent in 2003. He is Miami's career leader in rebounds with 5,711, and has appeared in 844 regular-season games -- 33 shy of Wade's record. He's also seventh on the Heat scoring list (6,486 career points).
Among active players, only the Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki and the San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili have spent the entirety of a career spanning at least 15 years with one franchise. Former Spurs guard Tony Parker had also logged at least 15 years with the team, but left San Antonio this summer in free agency to sign with the Charlotte Hornets.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.