Though the deal can’t be officially signed until July 9, it finally ended the month-long standoff between the two sides. Wade had made it clear to the franchise that he wanted a longer-term deal with a higher annual salary, while the Heat made it obvious that they preferred the veteran shooting guard to accept his player option worth $16.1 million during the 2015-16 season.
Both sides reached a compromise—Wade ended up getting more money, while the Heat kept their options open and now have cap flexibility for the 2016 free agency period and beyond.
Associated Press reporting Wade takes one-year deal, $20 million,
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) July 2, 2015
While both sides benefited from the contract, it was yet another genius deal from Pat Riley. It not only helps the Heat contend for an Eastern Conference title by keeping Wade, it is also simply a great PR move. “Flash” is the biggest legend in franchise history. If he had left, Heat Nation would have rioted even after Miami was able to re-sign point guard Goran Dragic to a multi-year contract.
The salary cap will jump up nearly $25 million more for the 2016-17 season. Wade’s agent, Henry Thomas, commented on how a one-year deal helps both parties out:
“This contract is a win-win for both Dwyane and the Heat. Not only does Dwyane get to extend his Hall of Fame-worthy career with the only franchise for whom he has ever played, but he will have the flexibility next summer to sign an additional deal. And the Heat gets to keep their franchise cornerstone while having the ability to build a championship-contending roster.”
It’s simple—if Wade proves that he can still remain an elite player at 33 years of age, Miami will give him the long-term contract he covets. However, if the franchise guard slips up as most aging players do, the Heat will have all of the leverage when it comes time for contract negotiations next summer.
That will also mark the summer when Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant becomes a free agent, and you can be assured that Riley will get in on the sweepstakes. Heck, Riley is currently getting in on the LaMarcus Aldridge sweepstakes and the Heat are already over the luxury tax bill for this upcoming season.
Both Wade and the Heat needed one another. While the 12-year veteran was coming off a solid season that saw him rank third in the Eastern Conference in scoring, he played in just 62 games due to numerous ailments. He is also on the verge of turning 34 years old this upcoming season and outside of the Los Angeles Lakers, there really weren’t any teams showing serious interest in the guard.
As far as Miami goes, they’re coming off a 37-45 season. They just missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years and are still in the process of recovering from LeBron James bolting last summer. Riley’s plan all offseason has been for a starting lineup of Dragic, Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside to take the court for the Heat in 2015-16.
Riley said this last week before Wade and Deng made their decisions to return to Miami:
“I want all of them to come back. I’d like to be able to make a deal with all of these players and keep the team that we built last year.”
Can you imagine if Wade bolted for the Lakers and the Heat tried to rebound from last season’s debacle without the face of the franchise?
I suppose that would have opened the door for the Heat to go all-in on Aldridge, but how much of a difference would that have really made? He is almost the same exact player as Bosh.
Regardless of what happens during the remainder of free agency, the Heat have already had a stellar offseason. Wade and Deng are coming back, and the Heat had the steal of the 2015 NBA Draft when they selected Justise Winslow with the No. 10 overall pick.
Miami isn’t likely to sign any big-name free agents this summer, but that was never the plan—the plan was to bring back the core from last season.
Riley has not only done that but has managed to keep the face of the franchise happy for at least one more year.
Because of that, Wade and the Heat reached the perfect compromise. Due to that compromise, Heat Nation will have the opportunity to witness what a healthy lineup featuring the aforementioned players are capable of during the 2015-16 season.