Do you want to win or do you want to get paid is the delicate dance taking hold of the 2016 NBA free agency class. It is also the dilemma that sources — likely agent Henry Thomas — are painting about Dwyane Wade and his willingness to depart the only franchise he has played for if the Miami Heat do not “properly” compensate him. But why make the problems public when the organization is preparing to pitch winning and loyalty to Kevin Durant?
For all of the talk of Pat Riley‘s magic, he is now facing bigger odds of closing a strong offseason makeover than in 2010 when he had a less disgruntled Wade, no emerging star to eat into his max dollars and an easier path for everyone to fit under the salary cap.
Six years later the team is cashed strapped after reportedly giving Hassan Whiteside a $98 million offer — even though Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald reported that he “agreed to some wiggle room if Durant wants to come” to Biscayne Bay. And rightfully so since he will have every opportunity to get paid again if he keeps playing at the level he has been at for the last year and a half.
The Heat’s way of team playing at its finest. Wade on the other hand is giving the impression that he is done with taking one for the team in the offseason. First it started with refusing to recruit Miami’s own free agents for the last two summers, now with moves that scream spite or money grab — according to which reports you believe.
New York will only have $11 million to spend after signing Joakim Noah, so they would not be able to afford Wade’s $20 million price tag. And even if they had that amount to spend, the $20 million would not be equal after New York City taxes attacked it. Another interested team, the Milwaukee Bucks, also does not have the have the money. But in the case that they did, Wade would be saying that he is willing to play 41 games in an arena that he usually struggles in — as a pro — for a mediocre team, because they were willing to pay him.
Wade is over the Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan-like pay cuts, because he bet on himself last offseason with a one year deal and won — playing 74 games and averaging 21 points per game in the playoffs without Chris Bosh. So he deserves it. Not a lifetime achievement deal that will cripple the Heat the way Kobe Bryant‘s did the Los Angeles Lakers. But also not the lowball $10 million a year contract offer that the Heat allegedly shoved at him.
The initial feel was that the vet was simply having a diva, wide receiver moment, however the line between feeling blatantly disrespected and being comfortable with your three rings while not winning is a thin one. Especially when checks are involved. But how much would you want to pay a aging oft-injured player?
Wade’s money will be there if the Heat are not able to sign Durant. If they are, cap guru Andy Elisburg will work to find a way to make it available — most likely at the expense of Goran Dragic and Josh McRoberts. The vet just has to sit and wait while Riley builds towards the betterment of everyone involved.