In mid-July, Miami Heat president Pat Riley said he regretted not doing more to re-sign Dwyane Wade, instead leaving contract negotiations to owner Mickey Arison and CEO Nick Arison. On Thursday, with Wade returning to Miami as a member of the Chicago Bulls, Riley told TNT's David Aldridge that he had another regret: not signing Wade to a maximum contract in the summer of 2014.
"Riley told me before the game that, if he had to do it over again, in the summer of 2014, after LeBron James left and went back to Cleveland, we should have given Wade a max deal as well as Chris Bosh, as the team did," Aldridge said in a sideline report." Riley told me, 'That was wrong. I should have, we should have given him that. That's a big second-guess, but that's on me.'"
In a clip from the interview with TNT, Riley said that the Heat will always love Wade and he can listen to "The Way We Were" or "Always Together" and come to tears thinking about the former face of the franchise:
Riley is certainly doing his part to make it clear that he has no ill will toward Wade. As for the summer of 2014, Wade wound up signing a two-year, $31.1 million deal with a player option for the second season. This was after opting out of a more lucrative arrangement that would have paid him $42 million over two years. Wade recouped some of that by opting out and signing a one-year, $20 million deal in 2015.
All of this was done in order for Miami to preserve financial flexibility. Initially, the Heat wanted to strengthen the team in free agency before re-signing Wade, James and Bosh. Then, after giving Bosh a max deal, they wanted to try to chase free agents in 2015 and 2016.
It ended up coming to bite them when Wade reportedly wanted to be compensated for past financial sacrifices and eventually decided he wanted to play for his hometown team. Had Riley's front office signed Wade to a max deal a couple of years ago, then he'd almost certainly wind up finishing his career with the team that drafted him.
It's worth noting that some people will roll their eyes at all of this, as they doubt that Miami sincerely wanted to pay the 34-year-old Wade big bucks. TNT analyst Charles Barkley is in that camp -- as soon as Aldridge finished his report, Barkley opined that the Heat simply didn't want to do what the Los Angeles Lakers did with Kobe Bryant.
For more on the contrast between Miami and Los Angeles' treatment of their future Hall of Famers, read CBS Sports' Matt Moore's column published on Thursday.