Update (10/22/16): The Heat has chosen to waive Briante Weber and Beno Udrih, and keep Rodney McGruder. The Heat’s backup point guard duties effectively therefore fall to Tyler Johnson.
The final 15-player roster is as follows: Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington, Dion Waiters, Rodney McGruder, Justise Winslow, Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Derrick Williams, James Johnson, Luke Babbitt, Udonis Haslem, Hassan Whiteside and Willie Reed.
The summer of 2016 was perhaps the most polarizing and divisive in Miami Heat history.
For Pat Riley, it was largely about two things: Retaining Hassan Whiteside, and maximizing flexibility to target a whale to complement him in the future. Despite the ensuing hell-fire it would cause.
Dwyane Wade is gone, having felt disrespected by the organization.
He would argue that Riley’s refusal to offer one last long-term contract, one befitting the most vital player in Heat history – whose 13-year tenure spanned nearly half the team’s 28-year existence — exemplifies that disrespect. That he clearly made his first priority to retain Whiteside, and his second priority to pursue the never realistic pipe dream that was Kevin Durant. Wade is no third option – particularly when successful pursuits of the first two would severely limit that which would be left over for the organization to compensate himself. After all, it was only Riley’s failed pursuit of Durant that made even the two years and $41 million he did offer possible.
He would argue that Riley didn’t even have the decency to present that $41 million offer. That Riley never even met with him this summer. That his inaction was intentional. That every move he made this summer had an ulterior motive. That he never truly wanted Wade back.
Riley would surely object to the assertion that Wade was disrespected.
He would argue that he was eager to sign Wade (and LeBron James and Chris Bosh) to a full max contract in the summer of 2010, which would’ve paid out an NBA-second-best $126 million over the past six years; it was Wade who chose to take less.
He would argue that he was fully prepared to honor the two years and $42 million remaining on Wade’s contract, which would’ve been sixth highest in the NBA, in the summer of 2014; it was Wade who chose to opt out.
He would argue that offering a string of shorter-term deals is not a sign of disrespect but rather a sign of compromise toward a common goal, in which the Heat could gain flexibility and Wade could benefit financially for enabling it. That these past two summers were a perfect microcosm. Wade had petitioned for a three-year deal paying out in the range of $45 million to $50 million in the summer of 2015; adding the one-year, $20 million deal he took that summer to the two years and $41 million he was offered in July totals to $61 million.
Both would be right. And both would be wrong. But did Riley truly want Wade back?