“The whole free agency thing… I don’t want to be in it this summer. I don’t want to be on the market at all…. I’m not curious at all… I want to be able to sign my deal [with the Heat] and move on, and not have to deal with any rumors, any free agency, any this, any that. This is where I want to end my career. So we’ll figure it out.”
That was Dwyane Wade, speaking in February to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald about his desire to avoid testing the free agent market and instead wanting to wrap up a new deal without any of the drama of last offseason, when he and the Miami Heat were initially so far apart on contract negotiations as to threaten the continued tenure of the future Hall of Famer with the only professional organization he has ever known.
Wade’s preference was for a three-year deal that paid out somewhere in the range of $50 million. The Heat’s preference was for Wade to opt into his $16.1 million player option but, short of that, for a three-year deal that paid out somewhere in the range of $30 million. The two sides ultimately settled on a one-year, $20 million contract.
The Heat’s primary concern in taking such a tough stance with Wade wasn’t about how much a large salary would cost for the 2015-16 season, with the Heat projected at the time to become the NBA’s first-ever repeater taxpayer, but rather how a large multi-year contract would impact the team’s flexibility for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
What was true last year remains true today, which could portend an equally contentious negotiation.
Wade’s likely demands are both clear and reasonable: He’s going to want a three-year deal with as large a payout as possible, though he may be willing to take the payout over four years, allowing the Heat to reduce the annual cap hits associated with his contract while potentially paying him into retirement if he so chooses in the years ahead.
The Heat’s summer, however, will be primarily dictated not by Wade but by Hassan Whiteside, and by what Pat Riley chooses to do in the wake of a potential Whiteside re-signing. What the Heat can offer Wade will be a byproduct of those decisions. Read more…