Dwyane Wade, the namesake of ‘Wade County’, Miami, has decided to go play back in his hometown with the Chicago Bulls. Heat fans are in shock, but the logic behind the amicable parting cannot really be argued. As a Heat and D-Wade fan myself, it’s weird to think of him playing in a different jersey – but along with a huge portion of Miami fans, I still have love for the guy.
There is always going to be some distraught idiot burning a player’s jersey, but the truth is the majority of Miami fans cannot be more appreciative of everything Wade has done for the team. D-Wade has been there through the highs, including three championships, and the brutally low rebuilding periods.
After Miami’s first championship in 2006, they had four miserable seasons of getting knocked off in the first round of the playoffs. Wade played his heart out and carried the team as Pat Riley started making room for cap space. In 2010, the Heat had nearly $48 million in cap space and this is when Riley beautifully orchestrated the ‘Big Three’ in Miami. Wade gracefully took a step back to let marquee signing LeBron James shine. Compare this to the clash of egos on the Lakers between Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.
Not only did Wade give the Miami Heat his prime athletic years, he gave them millions for the success of the team. In fact, he’s never been the highest-paid player on the Heat roster since he got drafted in 2003. In 2014, he had to do a $10 million giveback to retain Chris Bosh on a max contract while LeBron went back to Cleveland.
At first, people thought Wade was just trying to make news in the 2016 free agency. When the Heat’s lowball offer to retain him was made public, Heat fans started getting nervous. And now has Wade committed to a two-year $47.5 million contract in Chicago.
If you’re Dwyane Wade and the city you’ve built up from the ground starts to question your value and prioritizes Hassan Whiteside’s re-signing, and the possibility of getting Kevin Durant before your spot on the team, what would you do?
Can You Really Blame Pat Riley, Either?
Pat Riley has one championship ring from his days playing in the NBA, five NBA championships as a coach, he’s a three-time NBA Coach of the Year, and is considered one of the top 10 coaches of all time. As president of the Miami Heat, everything from the slicked back hair and the expensive suits scream business.
Even though Wade plays like he’s under 30, he is 34 years old. If Pat Riley did the same retirement gift approach that the Lakers did with Kobe, the inevitable rebuilding of the franchise would get delayed. Riley would rather put the Heat down for a year or two than watch it bleed out for a few years before it becomes competitive again.
Although he is 71 years old and texts like a tween (Riley texted the Miami Herald: “SADDDDDDD!!!! SO saddddddd!” in reaction to Wade leaving), he knows what he’s doing and Heat fans are lucky to have him as well.
The Future of the Heat
With LeBron leaving to go back to Cleveland and now Wade going to Chicago, the last man standing of the ‘Big Three’ is Chris Bosh – and he might sit courtside at each game in a suit due to blood clotting problems.
The Heat are looking to rebuild the franchise around 20-year-old Justise Winslow and 27-year-old Hassan Whiteside. As much as I like Chris Bosh, he’s dealing with a nearly fatal condition and sitting on a max contract taking up significant cap space on the team. If the Heat retire him, they will be able to make big moves again as soon as 2017.
The 2017 free agency is starting to look pretty good. Some of the talent that will be available includes Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Giannis Antetokounmpo, among a long list of great free agents.
Sooooo can the HEAT trade for Westbrook or something?? I need something to be excited for damnit.
— Dolphins Douche (@DolphinsDouche) July 7, 2016
My guess is he keeps the Heat super-flexible on cap room for next offseason, to chase guys like Westbrook/Blake/CP3 https://t.co/Cj6Auz1V8M
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 7, 2016
Curry’s modest salary in Golden State could mean he is one tumultuous season from wanting to go elsewhere. Russell Westbrook is likely dying to get out of Oklahoma City and Miami fans would love to have him. Griffin and Paul have shared the struggles of poor playoff runs, and Giannis Antetokounmpo is only 21 years old and has displayed amazing potential.