If not the Heat, then where will D-Wade take his talents?
Miami Heat franchise icon Dwyane Wade entered free agency this Friday not only strongly considering a relocation from the organization where he’s spent his entire NBA career, but also reportedly intensifying negotiations with both the New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks. Earlier this week, Wade grew increasingly frustrated with Miami after feeling that Heat president Pat Riley prioritized free agent Kevin Durant and young star Hassan Whiteside over the three-time champion.
At first, Wade’s threat of relocation from South Beach was taken by analysts and experts around the league as a ploy for leverage in contract negotiations. However, with the Heat still hot in pursuit of Durant, Wade’s contract still lingers in a back-burner role for Riley’s front office this offseason. In addition to feeling unimportant, the shooting guard had excellent career rebound season in 2015-16; Wade averaged 23.7 points per game and shot 52.2% from the 3-point line, numbers to seriously attract general mangers around the league looking to bolster rosters with potential.
Sources report that Wade remains adamant about earning more than the $20 million he made this past season, but in order to keep flexibility, the Heat have been hesitant to lock up that much cap space this early in free agency. Twice in his career, Wade has taken underpaid contracts to help the Florida franchise keep flexibility in cap and ultimately win championships, which many believe has multiplied the 2006 Finals MVP’s frustration.
In his free agency search, the Heat all-time leading scorer has found plenty of suitors throughout the league, starting with the ‘rebuild-now’ Knicks. However, with money being the main driving factor behind Miami’s contract negotiations, Knicks president Phil Jackson would most likely have to convince Wade of taking $20 million or less for the next year. After the Derrick Rose blockbuster trade and signing Rose’s Chicago center teammate Joakim Noah, there isn’t much money left for Wade in New York.
The Knicks present an interesting fit for the veteran shooting guard, who would join an already intriguing roster in New York, anchored by small forward Carmelo Anthony and rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis. With Wade’s age, the 12-time all-star would essentially join a rebuilding effort in New York, unusual for aging veterans entering free agency.
The Bucks have the ability to offer Wade his $20 million a year contract, and the Bucks provide another interesting scenario for the shooting guard. While the Knicks provide mainly a makeshift team of wayward veterans, the Bucks offer youth as well as the keys to another young and exciting franchise. With the combination of good money and the temptation to be the lead of another playoff capable franchise, Wade will most likely consider Milwaukee as an excellent option for relocation.
In addition to the Knicks and the Bucks, the Heat free agent has reportedly caught the interest of Mark Cuban‘s Dallas Mavericks, who recently lost out on other Heat free agent target center Hassan Whiteside when Whiteside announced his new contract with Miami. While the Mavericks remain decent each year, Wade and other free agents haven’t shown sincere interest in the Texas organization in recent free agency periods.
Wade’s third stint in free agency has proven to be the most eventful of his career, starting with almost certainly resigning with his incumbent organization to now being a complete wild card in the looming future. The shooting guard will turn 35 this upcoming season, but don’t be surprised if the 12-time all-star not only receives more than his $20 million asking price, but also excels next season in another uniform.
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