After making a run at former league MVP Kevin Durant and watching him leave Oklahoma City to form a super team with the Golden State Warriors, the Miami Heat turned its attention Monday to Dwyane Wade, offering him a two-year, $40 million contract it hopes will smooth things over and keep the 12-time All-Star from leaving.
Wade has yet to accept the offer, which includes a player option for the second season of the contract that would allow him to re-enter free agency next summer when the league’s salary cap is expected to jump from $94 million to a projected $107 million. Wade, who flew back from vacation in Europe on Monday, has told associates he plans to be patient before reaching a final decision.
Sources say Wade, who turns 35 in January and has guided the Heat to three NBA titles and five Finals appearances, would prefer a three-year deal, something he sought last summer with the Heat before owner Micky Arison stepped in and convinced him to sign a one-year deal at $20 million. Wade has reportedly made it known to suitors he will not play for less than $20 million next season, the same salary he made last season with the Heat.
Coming off a season in which he only missed seven games because of injury and posted quality playoff numbers (21.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists), Wade wasn’t happy with the first offer ($10 million) the Heat dangled him before the start of free agency last Friday. But that preliminary deal was contingent on if the Heat was able to sign Durant.
Regardless, Miami’s initial offer to Wade opened the door to him exploring other deals with potential suitors. The Vertical reported last week there were as many as four teams — the Bulls, Bucks, Mavericks and Nuggets — discussing multiyear deals with Wade’s representatives at over $20 million per season. The Knicks were also reportedly interested.
But as free agency has rolled on, those suitors have invested their cap space into other free agents.
The Nuggets, however, remain armed with $28 million in cap space and are not only courting Wade but also close friend and Heat teammate Udonis Haslem, whom Miami seems reluctant to pay anything more than the veteran minimum. Haslem wants the Heat to sign him for the $2.9 room exception.
Wade spent last week on vacation off the coast of Spain with former Olympic teammates LeBron James and Chris Paul and was flying to New York on Monday to begin spending the week participating in sponsor events. He’s also slated to cohost Live with Kelly Ripa on Thursday morning.
Between those events Wade is expected to also begin taking meetings with other teams. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wade will meet with the Bucks on Wednesday. A Chicago native, Wade attended Marquette University in Milwaukee. The Bucks, though, only have $11 million in cap space and would have to make a trade to accommodate Wade’s salary request.
By offering Wade what it has left available in its salary cap, the Heat would only have the $2.9 million room exception and NBA minimum contracts left to fill out its roster. And with the amount of money still out there for other teams to spend, there simply are not going to be many quality options willing to sign for the league minimum.
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SOURCE: Miami Herald