The Miami Heat have had a quiet offseason.
Their primary objectives were to re-sign Wayne Ellington, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem. While the Heat were able to retain sharpshooter Ellington on a one-year deal, no momentum has occurred for the Heat’s legends.
One of the reasons Wade is held up is because the guard is mulling over the idea of retirement. With his oldest son Zaire gearing up for college recruitment and Wade having nothing really left to prove after winning multiple championships and coming back to Miami, it’s not a wild decision to consider walking away. The 36-year-old has said he would only come back to play for the Heat, but is fine with calling it quits.
Here are five reasons why Wade should refrain from retiring this summer and return to the Heat next season:
1. He needs to play one final full season with the Heat.
Yes, Wade did return to Miami via trade last season. For the Heat icon to retire before playing in Miami again would have been tragic after he sadly departed in 2016. However, the 6-foot-4 guard didn’t get to play a full season. It wasn’t exactly storybook ending.
While Wade said he didn’t want a retirement tour, he’d get to do the fans more justice by playing next season. By coming back to Miami midseason, Wade was unable to play in numerous cities in Heat colors because the team had already completed their visits there. The Marquette University product suited up in just 21 Heat games, about a fraction of the season.
2. Wade can still perform at a high level when necessary.
Just because he’s pondering retirement doesn’t mean Wade can’t be productive on the floor. The 36-year-old might not be the superstar he used to be, but he can certainly still impact the game in ways few in the league can. Last season, the guard put up 12.0 points and 3.4 rebounds with the Heat, solid numbers for someone off the bench. He hit game-winners, played great defense and had meaningful stretches.
Yet, his best work came in the postseason against the Philadelphia 76ers. Wade was the Heat’s second leading scorer with 16.6 points a game. Although the Heat lost in five games, Wade led the team to their only win of the series. In Game 2 on the road, “Flash” led the Heat with 28 points, seven rebounds and two steals on a magnificent 68 percent shooting from the field.
For a team with plenty of guys in their primes, the Heat don’t need to bank on Wade to be their guy. They just need him to do his part. If the Heat can function that way next season, and have Wade save his heroics and clutch plays for the needed times, they can pair really well.
3. He can mentor Dion Waiters into becoming a star.
They say success is in succession. One of the ways Wade can continue on his legacy is by mentoring the next guys up. The perfect project is former lottery pick Dion Waiters, who never got a chance to play alongside Wade due to an ankle surgery that caused him to miss the second half of the season.
Waiters, 26, had a promising first year with the Heat before dealing with injures. The guard put up 15.8 points and 4.3 assists while showing flashes of stardom. Now that Waiters has had surgery and feels completely healthy, the Heat can resume their experiment with the shooter. At just 26, Waiters’ prime years are ahead of him and he has the most All-Star potential on the team.
Having a former All-Star in Wade can speed that process. The two players, who are both 6-foot-4 shooting guards, are already friends and have similar games. Waiters has had high praise for Wade, so the mentorship should already be established going into the season. If Waiters can have Wade in his ear the entire season — learning from mistakes and enhancing his production — there’s no telling how high Waiters’ ceiling is.
4. The Heat can actually compete for a championship.
It may sound a little crazy; however, with the point above, the Heat can be a different team with Waiters in the lineup. Furthermore, the Heat’s young assets are only getting better and most of the team have played together already.
Of all the reasons why the Heat can make noise in the East, the departure of one player tops them all. Four-time MVP LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month, leaving the window to the NBA Finals open in the East. For the past eight years, the Eastern Conference squad with James on it had made it to the NBA Finals. Now, with the King on the West Coast, the dynamic is completely different.
The Heat aren’t considered the favorites in the East; however, many of their competitors will be facing challenges of their own. The Toronto Raptors just went through a major coaching change and will be working to transition in new star Kawhi Leonard, who is coming off an injured season. The Boston Celtics will also be trying to get Gordon Hayward in the mix, though the Heat beat the Kyrie Irving-led Celtics in their season series, 2-1. The Philadelphia 76ers, who eliminated the Heat, appear to be in good shape; but Miami was able to keep up with them through most of the series.
With a fully rejuvenated, healthy team and stellar veteran in Wade, the Heat can certainly compete in the Eastern Conference. What better way for Wade to go out than competing at his hardest, the way Miami fans remember the three-time champion.
5. He can climb more milestone ladders.
This might be a more selfish reason, but there’s more Wade can do to refine his resume before he retires. The 15-year pro has accomplished plenty throughout his career and has put himself at the top of prestigious lists. Yet, with the way Wade can still put up numbers, he can consolidate his stats even more for the record books.
Wade ranks 31st on the all-time scoring list with 22,082 career points. If Wade scores just 113 more points he can fly by Clyde Drexler to move into the prestigious club’s top 30. Wade is also 92 postseason points away from zipping past Tony Parker, who just signed with the uncompetitive Charlotte Hornets, for ninth on the all-time playoff scoring list.
In another department, Wade is 35th on the all-time steals list with 1,561 swipes. If the sneaky defender can acquire 65 steals next season, a modest expectation, he can move well into the top 30 of all time in steals. That would be a very impressive mark for the guard, who is already known as one of the best shot-blocking guards in NBA history.