The basketball world has been all aflutter the past few days with talk of Dwyane Wade and the possibility of him leaving Miami if the two parties can’t come to terms on a new contract. If recent history is any indication, crazier things have certainly happened.
And Wade, for his part, hasn’t helped quell concerns for Heat fans recently, either. If anything, he’s exacerbated them, whether by subconsciously referring to his time with the Heat in the past tense, allowing his father to show up to a speaking engagement wearing a Cavs shirt, or posting an Instagram of himself singing Rihanna’s “B!t$h Better Have My Money” along with the caption “Dedicated to the heat.”
Because of all this, even the unlikeliest of scenarios are getting significant play these days, whether that entails Wade reuniting with LeBron James in Cleveland, Wade teaming up with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, or now, according to a new report, Wade signing on with the Los Angeles Clippers. Via ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst:
“Wade also is interested in the Los Angeles Clippers, sources said, but they are as limited by their commitments and the salary-cap rules as the Cavs. Getting to the Clippers would take either a massive pay cut or the Heat’s unlikely cooperation in a sign-and-trade.”
It’s hard not to recognize this as so much posturing on both sides, and of course, the most likely outcome is that Wade simply re-ups with the Heat on a new contract. Still, the growing uncertainty lends itself to all sorts of intriguing little thought experiments.
A Kobe/Wade pairing would set the league on fire…if this were 2009. But in 2015, and with their combined health such as it is, it doesn’t make much sense for either party. The Lakers aren’t poised for a title run any time soon, and the addition of Wade wouldn’t change that fact, not to mention that signing an aging veteran doesn’t fit into their long-term rebuilding plans. However, if it’s purely money he’s after, then the Lakers might not be a bad choice given that they’ll have nearly carte blanche in terms of cap space.
And that’s precisely what the Cavs cannot offer to Wade, no matter how badly the Super Friends fans would like to see the band get back together. They still have to deal with the issues of LeBron and Kevin Love and their player options for next season, and it’s looking more and more like both will choose to opt out of their current contracts. The Cavs will also have to decide what to do with Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert.
The Clippers will be in a similar predicament, especially if they decide to retain DeAndre Jordan at what will likely be a max deal. As Windhorst and Shelburne point out, Wade would have to take yet another pay cut to make the numbers work, and all indications so far are that the money issue is precisely what’s holding up the works with the Heat.
And that’s because the Heat are facing a similar conundrum with their own salary cap. Let’s not forget that they signed Chris Bosh to a mammoth deal last summer, that Luol Deng also has a player option worth about $10 million going into next season, and that they are reportedly ready to offer Goran Dragic a contract approaching the $80 million mark.
The Heat, of course, would like Wade to opt in on the final year of his current contract (worth about $16 million) to give them future flexibility and buy them some time until the TV money kicks in after next season and the salary cap skyrockets to in excess of $90 million. But Wade is reportedly tired of bearing the financial brunt for the organization, given that he’s taken significant pay cuts on his past two contracts to help make the numbers work.
Wade has until July 1 to opt in; otherwise, he’ll enter the free agency frenzy. And as we all know, anything is possible in free agency.