Miami sees another super-team scenario, but Dwyane Wade isn't cooperating

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Miami Heat president Pat Riley gestures during an end of season NBA basketball news conference, Thursday, June 19, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/The Miami Herald, Al Diaz)
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  • Dwyane Wade
    Dwyane Wade
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Goran Dragic
    Goran Dragic
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  • Hassan Whiteside
    Hassan Whiteside
    American basketball player
  • Chris Bosh
    Chris Bosh
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|

By all accounts, Heat president Pat Riley is preparing himself for another super-team scenario, and why wouldn’t he be? In the past decade, he’s acquired Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James — arguably the NBA’s two greatest post-Jordan era players — for the franchise’s trio of titles.

This is Miami, where the only thing more scant than the bathing suits is the state income tax, so luring the talents of big-name basketball players isn’t a foreign concept in South Beach. 

In theory, the foundation is in place. Had Erik Spoelstra’s squad remained healthy, the starting lineup of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside may have been a threat in an Eastern Conference that saw LeBron’s Cavaliers limp to the NBA Finals. 

Alas, the two high-profile holdovers from the Heat’s most recent championship campaign couldn’t carry Miami to the playoffs, even in the East, as Bosh suffered a season-ending health scare with blood clots in his lungs and Wade battled his seemingly annual knee concerns

The good news: Bosh returned to the court Tuesday, participating in non-contract drills for the first time since February, according to multiple media outlets, including the Sun Sentinel.

The bad news: Wade may not be long for Miami after 12 seasons on the team that drafted him, since the two sides differ on the 33-year-old shooting guard’s future. According to multiple outlets, Wade prefers to exercise his player option and seek the security of $20 million annually in the final years of his stardom, but the Heat would rather a) sign him for closer to $10 million or b) let him play out the final year of his current deal for $16.1 million.

From Riley’s perspective, either of the latter two scenarios would keep the Heat in play for big-name free agents in 2016, when Kevin Durant and a host of others hit the market in the first summer of a new TV deal that could send the NBA salary cap skyrocketing to $89 million. Or at least that’s the current theory being peddled by the Miami Herald’s Dan Le Batard.

The Heat can have room for Wade, Bosh, Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Durant … but only if Wade opts in for this year and gives them that flexibility by being a free agent in 2016. This requires Wade to have a lot of trust, obviously, and the leap of faith that the team will take care of him in 2016.

It also requires some creativity and relationship-building with Whiteside, who will be tucked away in something called a “cap hold.”

And it ultimately involves — and this is a big ask — Wade being OK with newcomers who haven’t done much of anything for the organization, like Dragic and Whiteside, earning more than he does.

If Wade opts into his deal for next season, he’d carry a $20.6 million cap hold in 2016, according to ShamSports, which combined with Bosh’s $23.7 million in 2016-17 and Dragic’s expected max contract (an estimated $21.6 million that year) leaves roughly $23.1 million for Durant or whoever — and that’s before we account for Josh McRoberts’ $5.8 million paycheck in 2016-17, what could be an eight-figure price tag for Whiteside and the remaining cap holds.

In theory, Riley could dump McRoberts, keep Whiteside waiting in his cap hold and offer Durant an $18.3 million starting salary before settling up with Whiteside, but that would require the former MVP to accept less than a max contract (roughly $26.7 million) on the open market next summer. And why would a 27-year-old Durant want to team with a trio of 30-somethings in Miami when he could sign for more money alongside current teammates Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka or join his hometown team with John Wall and Bradley Beal, all of whom would still be in their prime entering the 2016-17 NBA season.

That theory also ignores the reality that Wade is closer to retirement than the start of his Heat career more than a decade ago — a notion that will only be reinforced when he joins ABC for the station’s studio coverage of the NBA Finals. It was Riley himself who reminded us in his annual all-too-honest exit interview with the Miami media of the injury issues that have cost Wade a combined 25 percent of his regular-season games over the past four seasons.

"He's got to change the narrative himself about his body and about his injuries and about his missing games," Riley said. "And we had a discussion about this. But he always has to answer those questions, and I know those questions are legitimate because they're real.

"So night in and night out, there's always the question of whether or not he can or he can't. And so I'd like to have him try to get past that first hurdle mentally and do whatever he has to do to get himself ready to practice and himself ready to play, each and every night."

So, maybe Riley’s better off letting Wade walk— or at least challenging him to find someone crazy enough to offer him three years and $60 million — and selling Durant and others on Bosh, Dragic, Whiteside and whoever else the Heat pull out of their you know what. However wild that may seem, the sun sure seems to shine on Riley’s behind more days than not.

Remember, this is Miami, where even Scarface achieved his wildest dreams, however briefly.

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Ben Rohrbach

is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!