The relationship between Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat is about to be tested like never before, and the most accomplished player in franchise history may soon have a new home.
Wade will become a free agent Wednesday, electing to pass on a $16.1-million option for next season and see what he’s worth on the open market. His decision was announced Monday afternoon by a spokesperson in a 61-word news release, after both Wade and his agent Henry Thomas did not respond to requests for comment.
Wade played for all three of Miami’s NBA championship teams. He’s been an All-Star in 11 of his 12 seasons, and is Miami’s all-time leader in plenty of categories including games, points, assists and steals.
“We want Dwyane back,” Heat President Pat Riley said last week. “There’s no doubt about that.”
There’s doubt it will happen.
As is usually the case, it will come down to money. Wade has left about $27 million on the table during his career and wants those sacrifices rewarded in his next contract. But he’s missed 25% of Miami’s regular-season games over the last four seasons and that, combined with him turning 34 next season, likely is weighing heavily on how much the Heat wants to offer.
He averaged 21.5 points this past season, 11th-best in the NBA and third-best in the Eastern Conference. His points-per-48-minutes of 32.4 ranked relatively close to elite scorers like Stephen Curry (34.9), LeBron James (33.6) and Carmelo Anthony (32.5).
Heat forward Luol Deng announced through agent Herb Rudoy that he would exercise his option to play for Miami next season in a $10.1-million deal.
The Golden State Warriors exercised their $3.8-million option on reserve big man Marreese Speights for next season. Speights averaged a career-high 10.4 points along with 4.3 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game during the regular season.
The Orlando Magic waived guard Ben Gordon and learned that draft pick Mario Hezonja had completed a buyout with European club FC Barcelona. The 20-year-old Hezonja was the fifth overall pick in last week’s draft.
The Chicago Bulls said guard Kirk Hinrich exercised his player option and would return next season.