This has been a sensitive topic amongst Miami Heat fans throughout the years. Should the team retain Dwyane Wade once he hits free agency, and does he still deserve a max deal? To start, Wade’s knees are completely shot at this point. Years of wear and tear, explosive moves to the basket and his famous side step has really worn down the 10-time All-Star. Since peaking during the 2008-09 season (30 PPG), Wade’s scoring averages have steadily decreased to a current average of 19.2 points per game.
Wade’s impact on the game has never been questioned as he has looked surprisingly solid since sitting out with knee soreness for a long stretch earlier in the season. Drafted in 2003, Miami has been Wade’s team. However, when he personally recruited All-Stars, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, he has faded into the background a bit. LeBron has been LeBron, but Bosh has also been a pleasant surprise, especially in crunch time. Both players have vastly improved their games, and though Bosh isn’t given much credit, he is vital to the Heat’s future success.
The real issue with Miami, is how much of a load James is forced to carry when Wade is absent. Making three-straight NBA Finals appearances has certainly taken a toll on James, and Wade’s health has not been much of a help. Eventually, LeBron’s body is going to break down if he continues to shoulder the burden resulting from the Heat’s old and broken down roster. Luckily, Miami will potentially have ample cap space to deepen the roster for the upcoming years. What has not been addressed is the future of the Big 3, as each player has the option to opt out of their current contracts.
James, Wade and Bosh will, in all likelihood, opt out of their contracts, not to test free agency, but to sign a new contract guaranteeing them a roster spot for the next four-to-five years. Where things become fishy, is deciding who deserves a max contract, and who doesn’t. Obviously, LeBron James is a shoo-in to be offered the max. Bosh likely will receive the same, but Wade may be uncertain. Of course, the history between Wade and Miami will cause an extremely awkward negotiation if management does not believe he is a max player any longer.
Looking toward the future, offering Wade a long-term illustrious contract would simply be a disaster in the making. His health is questionable at best, and could force Miami’s future to be up in the air. So, dare I say this, the Miami Heat should sever ties with Wade this offseason and pursue a younger, healthier free agent. Perhaps, Pat Riley can find a way to sign two top free agents this offseason with all of the extra cap space. Imagine how players such as Eric Bledsoe and Avery Bradley, for example, would look in Miami Heat colors. Possibly even a Kyle Lowry or Isaiah Thomas-type player would be an option as well.
As long as the Heat are led by LeBron James, players are going to be drooling over the opportunity to play with him. Cutting ties with arguably the franchise’s all-time greatest player would unquestionably be tough. Unfortunately, all good things must come to and end, so don’t be surprised when negotiations between the two sides do not go as smoothly as expected.