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He gave up money in 2014 in order to help the Heat attempt to retain its superteam.
He’s not giving up any more money.
Wade agreed to a one-year, $20 million contract with the Miami Heat on Thursday, ending the months-long questions about whether or not his time with the only organization he’s ever known would be up. The Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds was the first to report the news.
[ThePostGame: Wade strikes new deal while on vacation – with LeBron]
The shooting guard enjoyed another deserved All-Star season in 2014-15, but he missed 20 games and his Heat missed the playoffs in its first year working without LeBron James. Following the season Wade opted out of the final year of the two-year deal he signed in 2014. That move, coupled with this single-season contract, will make Wade an extra $3.9 million as the Heat attempt to field a healthy roster and jump back into Eastern Conference title contention.
From a statement released by Wade:
“It has been an honor and privilege to play with the Miami HEAT the past twelve years. The HEAT family and I have shared incredible moments over the years and I look forward to continuing our journey. I am extremely proud of my personal contributions in helping to build the HEAT franchise and for bringing three NBA championship wins to our great city. For my entire NBA career, Miami has always been my city and my home. I’m overwhelmed with the love and support the Miami community have consistently shown me and my family throughout the years.”
The short deal will not only allow Wade to take in yet another pay increase in the 2016 offseason, when the NBA’s salary cap is expected to hop up $20 million to around the $90 million mark, but also give Heat president Pat Riley another chance to swing for the fences and lure free agent Kevin Durant to South Beach.
The 2016 expiration date could also give the Heat wiggle room needed to re-sign center Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside, who blossomed with the Heat in 2014-15 after bouncing around several pro teams, has no Bird Rights and can only re-sign with the Heat on a contract that doesn’t push them past the salary cap.
This could have been worse, but some semblance of sanity did prevail.
It was understandable to see where both sides were coming from in this back and forth. Wade not only took less money after years of going at it alone with the Heat to help LeBron and Chris Bosh come to town, he opted out of a $20.1 million contract for last season and $21.6 option for 2015-16 in order to clear up space for LeBron (and, after James left, Bosh) to make as much money as possible in the chances that the Big Three would continue in Miami.
Wade left $5.1 million last season and, in the end, $1.6 million next season in order to keep the party going. Nobody is going to throw a pity party for a man that had to survive after giving up $41.7 million in exchange for $35 million, but that is a fair bit of sacrifice in a sports culture that demands people like Dwyane Wade do exactly what he ended up doing – giving up money for the chance to win big.
Yes, Wade did turn down his 2015-16 player option and hop up to $20 million next season (making nearly $4 million along the way, and he was eligible to make $22 million next season), but only after tense negotiations as every side tried to have cake that it could eat as well.
Over the last four seasons, Wade has missed a combined 78 games. That’s nearly a full NBA regular season in total, and it’s mostly because Dwyane Wade’s aggressive style and willingness to put it all out there leads to often leads to nagging, lingering injuries. Not only did Riley and the Heat have this in mind when they approached what could have been contentious, ongoing talks, but they also had the future of the franchise to consider.
A future that, two different times this decade, Wade has made significant financial sacrifices to support. All while owner Micky Arison releases players like Mike Miller to avoid continued luxury tax penalties.
Parsimony from ownership is not the problem here, however. Even with the NBA’s salary cap skyrocketing in 2016, the Heat will still be hard-pressed to fit Kevin Durant’s maximum contract on its books alongside the $23.7 million Chris Bosh is owed, Whiteside’s tricky potential deal, the fallout from Goran Dragic’s five-year, $90 million extension, potentially eight or nine other roster spots to fill, and whatever the Heat – again – and Wade decide to do with each other in 2016 free agency.
It’s very much possible that the Heat and Pat Riley could decide to go for a series of doubles as opposed to yet another three-run homer, but that’s always been an anathema to Riley as Heat executive. Dating back to 1996, his first full offseason running the team, he’s always chosen to find stars first, and fill out the roster with minimum or near-minimum salaried helpers.
Alonzo Mourning begat LeBron James in the same way that Isaac Austin begat Joel Anthony in the same way that a miss on Juwan Howard could begat a miss on Kevin Durant. Even the 37-win 2014-15 Miami Heat team, which missed the playoffs, was still a top-heavy squad that featured one of the NBA’s most potent five-man starting units on paper, one that never got a chance to play together due to injury woes.
These are luxurious, Miami-styled problems for both franchise and team. Wade saved face as he sets to hit the NBA’s cabana club with LeBron and the like, and the Heat kept up its reputation as an outfit that will do whatever it can for superstars.
Whether or not that will sway Kevin Durant this summer, or even Dwyane Wade next summer, remains to be seen.
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