The possibility of Dwyane Wade donning another NBA uniform next season ended with the franchise cornerstone accepting a one-year deal to remain with the Miami Heat.
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Wade agreed to a one-year, $20 million contract with the Heat on Thursday that concluded his first trip to free agency since 2010 and put to rest speculation that the shooting guard, who’s spent his entire 12-year career in Miami, would play elsewhere this coming season.
Conversations with Heat CEO Nick Arison and managing general partner Micky Arison made Wade feel secure in returning to the franchise he leads all-time in games, minutes, points, assists and steals.
“Sitting down with Nick, sitting down with Micky and having conversations with them that I’ve never had, that was big for me,” said the 33-year-old, who was drafted fifth by the Heat in 2003.
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“I’ve never had a business conversation with one of them…. They got to show me how much they really wanted me to be here, how important it was for them that I continue to wear one jersey.”
Wade entered free agency after electing to decline his $16.1m player option for 2015-16, in search of a long-term deal to secure his future as he moves into the later stages of his career.
With reports revealing differences between Wade and the organisation, as well as Wade speaking of his time in Miami in the past tense as a guest analyst for ESPN during the NBA Finals, it seemed like a very real possibility that a change of scenery might be looming.
Instead, the sides compromised as Wade took a one-year contract that both benefits his cause next summer when the salary cap continues to bloat and that of the Heat as they gain financial flexibility with the roster.
“Money-wise, I thought I did the best I could for myself and my family, and I also had the Heat in mind,” Wade added. “Obviously it’s all about putting yourself in position to be able to compete. I love this organisation. It crossed my mind to say, ‘If I’m going to handicap this organisation by this contract, maybe the best situation is not to be there.’”
Wade has never had the luxury of being the highest paid player on Miami, despite being an 11-time All-Star, two-time member of the All-NBA First Team and three-time champion.
His $20m for next season will still trail team-mate Chris Bosh’s $22.19m salary, but it will be the highest annual figure of his career when he officially signs at the end of the league’s moratorium period, ending on July 8.
With Wade back in the fold and point guard Goran Dragic re-signed to a five-year deal, the Heat are in position to challenge in the Eastern Conference after missing the playoffs for the first time in seven years last season.
“We’re going to be better. I know that,” Wade said. “Knock on wood, you stay healthy, I think we’re a good team. I like our chances.”
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