Wade offered some serviceable in-game commentary, but his current contract negotiations with the Heat inevitably bubbled to the surface. He was trying to be circumspect and not detract attention from the game in-progress, but Wade inadvertently hinted that he will opt out of his current contract – worth about $16.1 million next season – come July 1. Via Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sentinel:
“Well, listen, it’s summer time,” Wade said when asked about his contract. “So when summer time and free agency [come together], it’s going to be a lot of talk. And right now, I’m glad that the Finals is going and we’re here.
“And we’ll worry about that in July. Right now, we’re going to focus on these Finals.”
For weeks now, whispers about Wade’s contentious negotiations with management have dominated this storyline. Wade, you’ll recall, took substantially less money on his previous two contracts, first in order to make the numbers work so Heat brass could bring LeBron James and Chris Bosh to town back in 2010, then again last summer in hopes of keeping the Big 3 together and adding some necessary pieces so they could remain competitive moving forward.
Today, Wade appears to be fresh out of charity. The Heat’s front office, of course, would like him to opt in on the final year of his contract to give them future flexibility, namely to try and make a run at Kevin Durant when he enters free agency next summer.
But that could prove to be a bridge too far for Wade who, as rumors have it, may do the unthinkable and consider leaving the Heat if they can’t reach a solution to his liking. Both sides have legitimate qualms here. Offering Wade a huge deal would be akin to how Kobe Bryant hamstrung the Lakers a couple of summers ago, and Wade (like Kobe) is no longer in his prime, not to mention the fact that he missed a total of 20 games last season due to ongoing knee issues.
But then again, why should Wade continue to bear the financial brunt for the entire organization? Regardless, it seems likely the two sides will do everything in their power to keep Wade in a Heat uniform for the rest of his career. It’s entirely possible they could work out some sort of covert, gentleman’s agreement to make Wade whole in the future, such as a cushy front-office gig, something similar to whatever it is they worked out with Udonis Haslem a few seasons ago.
But letting Wade enter free agency is a dangerous game to play, and crazier things have certainly happened during the offseason, LeBron abruptly leaving town the way he did last summer being one example of many.