There is a “sizable gap” between Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in contract negotiations for a future deal, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
Wade is reportedly trying to make up some of the $US41.6 million he gave up last summer when he opted out of the last two years of his deal to help the Miami Heat re-sign LeBron James and retool the roster.
While James went back to Cleveland and Chris Bosh re-signed on a max deal, Wade settled for a two-year, $US31 million deal with Miami, with a $US16.1 million player option this summer.
As Jackson reports, the original belief was that Wade would opt into that player deal this summer so he could explore free agency in 2016 when the salary cap jumps to $US88 million. But instead, he may seek a long-term, more lucrative deal this summer that would pay him through age 36.
Jackson reports that while Wade’s preference is to stay in Miami, he’s open to going to other teams if he and the Heat can’t agree on a number.
Miami’s hesitancy to give Wade more money has to boil down to Wade’s age and injuries. Wade will turn 34 next season and hasn’t played over 70 games since the 2010-11 season. In the last two seasons, he’s missed a combined 48 games. Though Wade is still a top guard in the NBA when healthy, he struggles to actually stay on the court.
Jackson notes that Heat president Pat Riley commented on Wade’s health earlier this offseason, suggesting that Wade needs to take better care of his body:
“He’s got to change the narrative himself about his body and about his injuries and about his missing games. And we had a discussion about this. But he always has to answer those questions, and I know those questions are legitimate because they’re real. So night in and night out, there’s always the question of whether or not he can or he can’t. And so I’d like to have him try to get past that first hurdle mentally and do whatever he has to do to get himself ready to practice and himself ready to play, each and every night.”
That Wade would suddenly want to turn down $US16 million and become a free agent this summer before the huge salary cap jump next summer suggests he’s aware of his own physical limitations. Though he missed 20 games this past year, he still averaged 21 points on 47% shooting with nearly five assists per game. Wade and his agent may be hoping to cash in on a solid season with a long-term deal, rather than risk a lesser 2015-16 season with more injuries.
Unfortunately for Wade, even if he decides to leave Miami, other teams are aware of his age and injury history, too. It’s possible that Wade could find a team willing to pay him more than that $US16 million number, but there would likely be some hesitancy. Even with the cap jump, paying an ageing, injury-riddled, ball-dominant guard a near-max contract would be risky, and teams would probably want to keep the contract short in length or not guarantee all of the money.
Unfortunately for Wade, it’s unlikely that he’ll make up the $US42 million he gave up last summer. Though he still has plenty of value in the league, teams are too wary of investing a lot of money in a player with Wade’s age and injury history.
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