I wrote about Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald dropping a bombshell concerning contract talks between the Heat and guard Dwyane Wade about a week ago — no, YOU stop dancing. According to Jackson, Wade was willing to opt out of his contract and look elsewhere if the Heat didn’t increase their offer. The issue, however, is that nobody really knew what to make of it because we didn’t know what the Heat’s initial offer was.
Enter in Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report, who reported that the Heat’s multi-year offer was worth less than $10 million annually. In other words, if true, the Heat expected Wade, a man of many sacrifices, to opt out of his $16 million player option to essentially accept Lance Stephenson money (he signed a three-year, $27 million deal with Charlotte last summer). No offense to Lance, but despite their Heat-Pacers battles during the Big Three Era, Wade and Stephenson barely belong in the same sentence, much less the same pay scale.
Last Wednesday, Jackson reported that Wade would “welcome” a contract worth around $20 million per season, likely based on his production last year (averages of 21.5 points and 4.8 assists), and the fact that, again, Wade has sacrificed so much since being drafted in 2003. The Heat and Wade aren’t just roughly $10 million apart; they’re roughly $10 million apart ANNUALLY if we’re to believe these reports. Assuming both sides are pushing for a three-year deal, that’s a total difference of $30 million.
Wade shouldn’t make $20 million annually over three years, especially considering his advanced age and health problems (he’s missed 80 games over the last five seasons). Even with the cap boom expected to happen next offseason, you just don’t tie up that sort of money to an older guard with health issues. That’s not smart (just look at what’s happened with Kobe Bryant), and I understand the Heat’s stance of trying to maintain cap flexibility moving forward.
But c’mon, man.
It’s one thing to simply offer a deal that’s lower than Wade would want. It’s another thing entirely to lowball the greatest player in franchise history to that magnitude. Wade has sacrificed his body for his entire career, while sacrificing his role and millions of dollars over the past five years. How unfair is it for him to opt out of $16 million to take a deal worth around $7 million less ANNUALLY. Again, you’d essentially be asking him to take Lance Stephenson money a year after averaging 21 and 5.
The solution to this issue is likely somewhere in the middle. If not the one-year mega-deal that ESPN’s Michael Wallace suggested, something in the $18 million per year range could probably get the deal done (although Miami would surely push for a bit lower). The Heat failing to re-sign Wade could lead to a frightening domino effect that could not only lead Goran Dragic to go elsewhere, but would likely hurt the Heat’s ability to lure top-tier free agents in the future with no Wade (or Dragic) there.
The Heat must stop with the (alleged) disrespectful, lowball offers and get things done — their short and long-term future depends on it.