After years of absorbing the financial burden for the betterment of his team, Dwyane Wade was all out of charity this summer. And who can blame him? He took pay cuts on three separate occasions to make the numbers work for Miami’s Big 3 era, the result of which was two NBA titles and four consecutive Finals appearances.
And how did the Heat repay him? Basically, by insulting him. Team president Pat Riley, a ruthless and unsentimental businessman, first tried to low-ball Wade on a reported deal worth about $10 million a year, then finally caved on a two-year offer for just over $41 million. That still wasn’t good enough for Wade, who was looking to recoup some of those previous losses on what would likely be the last big contract of his career.
But Riles refused to budge (in fact, he never even directly spoke to Wade during that tense negotiation process), so Wade finally reached his limit and packed his bags for his hometown Chicago Bulls. That leaves just one player remaining who has been a part of all three of the Heat’s championship teams: Udonis Haslem. Wade’s departure also now makes him the longest-tenured player in franchise history.
Needless to say, the 36-year-old vet wasn’t stoked about losing Wade and can’t stop wondering whether there was something he could’ve done to prevent it. Via Michael Wallace of ESPN.com:
“In hindsight, I don’t know, I think I should have come in and pulled a Chris Paul and handcuffed him like they did DeAndre Jordan and made him change his mind,” Haslem said. “I don’t know if there was anything I could have done or should have done. But I felt like it could have been avoided. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t.”
Say what you will about Riley, but it was a move made with an eye toward the future. Wade himself has even acknowledged that. It’s also been widely rumored that Riley has some sort of under-the-table deal for future compensation for Haslem after convincing him to accept less money and a diminished role during the Big 3 era, but given the way Riley handled the Wade situation, Haslem probably shouldn’t bet his mortgage on it.