Gilbert Arenas spent the majority of his NBA career playing in the same division as the Miami Heat, but if things had turned out differently, he would’ve played for the Heat.
He revealed as much recently when speaking about Heat legend Dwyane Wade, who was recently enshrined into the Hall of Fame.
“We was this close from being teammates,” said Arenas, putting two of his fingers very close together. “… My free agent year was the year he got drafted, so Miami was coming after me and Cuban ties, right? They were like, ‘OK, so we want to play him at the point. … We have this great combo that we can do, right? You have your Cuban ties, so you’re coming back home. This is a great story.'”
Arenas went on to say that he believes he asked for a deal in the range of $50 million or so from the Heat, an amount that Pat Riley wasn’t really willing to shell out for such a young player.
The three-time All-Star explained that he was asking for such a high amount because of the offer sheet Andre Miller had signed with the Denver Nuggets. After spending the 2002-03 season with the Los Angeles Clippers, Miller joined the Nuggets on a six-year deal worth around $55 million.
Arenas also mentioned that Lamar Odom, who wound up signing with the Heat on a six-year deal worth $65 million in 2003, was waiting to see what happened with his free agency before making his own move.
In the end, Arenas joined the Washington Wizards on a six-year contract worth around $65 million. He became a full-fledged superstar in the nation’s capital, averaging 25.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game in a little over seven full seasons.
Odom helped the Heat make it back to the playoffs in his lone season in South Florida. He was traded after the 2003-04 season to the Los Angeles Lakers in a package for Shaquille O’Neal, a move that eventually worked out for both sides.
Though things worked out for the Heat in the end, fans will still surely wonder how successful an Arenas-Wade duo would’ve been. An Arenas-Wade backcourt would’ve easily been one of the best in the entire league, but the team’s frontcourt might’ve lacked a bit.
Heat fans have to be happy with how things turned out. Wade and O’Neal helped lead the franchise to its first title in 2006, and Wade then stayed on for many more years, contributing to titles once again in 2012 and 2013. He enjoyed stints with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers before returning to the Heat and retiring in 2019.
Arenas, on the other hand, finished his playing career in China and likely won’t become a Hall of Famer.