It seems weird imagining Dwyane Wade in anything other than a Miami Heat uniform.
Wade has been there since 2003. He's a three-time champion with the Heat. He's as much a part of that organization as Pat Riley, Alonzo Mourning or even Micky Arison. They have a "Heat Lifer" business branding that he embodies perfectly. However, for the second straight summer, we're looking at the Heat and Wade struggling to see eye-to-eye on a contract for the future Hall of Famer.
Once again, Wade wants more money and security than the Heat apparently are willing to offer right now. That's causing Wade to look elsewhere to put pressure on the team to come through and pay him. Since he's at the end of his prime, getting one more big deal makes sense for Wade. But the Heat have an incentive for keeping his cost relatively low and making that agreement happen sooner rather that later.
With the gap between Wade and the Heat happening again, ESPN's Brian Windhorst went on Miami radio and said Wade's representatives have recently reached out to a couple of teams, including the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, about potential interest.
Over the last 24, 72 hours, Dwyane's representatives have been calling around the league to several teams. Not to every team, not to 29 teams, but to a few teams and have said to them, "Hey, Dwyane is going to be available and is going to take offers."
I know San Antonio is one of the teams that's been contacted. I know Dallas is one of the teams that's been contacted.
How much should either side try to call a potential bluff here?
For the Heat, Wade doesn't want to leave Miami. It's his home and he's built an incredible career. He could be one of the last superstars, much like Kobe Bryant, to spend his entire career with one team. That's meaningful for everybody involved. But they also have to make sure they have the flexibility to use any potential cap space when Kevin Durant, Hassan Whiteside or any other free agent target they have this summer is still available.
Wade agreed to a one-year, $20 million deal last summer when he had these same issues coming to an agreement on a long-term deal with the Heat. This summer, he has a $30 million cap hold as the Heat retain the right to go over the cap to sign him. But really, the only way they have an abundance of cap space this summer is either by Wade signing elsewhere right away or coming to an agreement with the shooting guard quickly for a deal with an annual salary number much lower than his $30 million cap hold.
They don't have Whiteside's full Bird rights, which means they can't just go over the salary cap to re-sign him. That limits their flexibility greatly.
For Wade, he has to weigh just how much of this strategy is a threat and how much of it could be a reality. Another future Hall of Famer, Paul Pierce, was supposed to spend his entire career with the Boston Celtics. Then they traded him to the Brooklyn Nets and since then he's been nomadic in his signings. He signed with the Washington Wizards before finding his way back to Doc Rivers to play for the Los Angeles Clippers. It won't sully his career in any way, but it does keep him from that one franchise distinction some guys really desire.
Wade on the San Antonio Spurs would likely have to come at a salary reduction. It's unlikely they'll give him a huge, long-term deal. They're trying to find their own flexibility in possibly adding someone like Mike Conley or Pau Gasol or maybe even Kevin Durant. Wade could fit with Gasol in their salary cap space but again, he's not getting paid the number he's likely seeking from Miami.
The Dallas Mavericks have much more flexibility in what they can offer, but after committing so much money to Wes Matthews at the shooting guard position, throwing big money at Wade also seems unlikely. Although, they've struck out so much on free agency over the last few years that maybe they'd want a win in convincing Wade to come to their team as a lead guard.
Either way, one of these sides will have to blink at some point and do it soon for the Heat's sake of continuing to strengthen their roster.