What was thought to be a relatively straightforward summer for the Miami Heat has hit a snag over contract talks with Dwyane Wade.
Wade must decide by June 29 whether to opt out of the final year of a contract that would pay him $16.1 million next season.
The star shooting guard hinted last month that he intended to exercise his option, a heavily-preferred scenario for the Heat organization. However, the 33-year-old is now considering the possibility of opting out in order to secure one last lucrative long-term deal, and is reportedly willing to test the open market and leave the Heat, if necessary, in order to get it.
There is believed to be a sizable gap between what Wade is demanding and what the Heat is offering. That impasse has led to speculation that Wade’s long-term future with the Heat is in doubt.
Despite the uncertainty, it seems highly unlikely that the Heat would part ways with the biggest star in its history. Neither Wade nor the Heat would want such an outcome (nor would any other team in the NBA which Wade would consider likely be willing to pay him what he seeks anyway). Such tensions are merely a tactic employed by either party to gain leverage during the very early stages of what figures to be a challenging multi-month negotiation. But there are real concerns that underlie such posturing.
Wade’s desire for one last big contract from the Heat can easily be justified: He has guided the Heat to five NBA finals and three titles, he played a critical role in luring LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami, he has comported himself with class over the course of a brilliant twelve-year career, and he has sacrificed substantial salary in order to give the Heat flexibility over the past five years.
Last summer, in order to give the Heat flexibility to augment its roster, Wade opted out of the final two years of a contract that would have paid him $41.8 million. He instead accepted a rather shocking two-year, $31.1 million deal, which included a player option for next season.
As a result, over the first five years of what might have otherwise been the full six-year maximum contract we were all eager to give him to stay in the summer of 2010, Wade has now sacrificed a total of $18 million for the betterment of his team. If he were to exercise his option, that sacrifice would increase to $27 million.
It only seems natural, then, that Wade would want a show of appreciation in return.
Wade reportedly wants to opt out this summer, with the hope that the Heat would give him a three-year deal that would extend past his 36th birthday. The Heat would love to give it to him in theory, but paying him what he’s seeking would present significant challenges in practice. Read more…