Miami Heat: What’s the hold up in re-signing Dwyane Wade?


Dwyane Wade has yet to re-sign with the Miami Heat. Is this a problem?

On every list of available players this offseason, there’s a suspicious inclusion.

The Miami Heat’s most prolific shooting guard, Dwyane Wade, has yet to sign a contract to return for his 16th NBA season.

Wade’s absence is only slightly alarming; he’s previously stated he intends on retiring in Miami, dismissing the possibility of being the new guy on team picture day again.

"“One day I want to retire in a Miami Heat jersey,” Wade said in September 2017. “I don’t know how that will happen, but I definitely want to make sure that when I decide to hang it up, that jersey is on. Whether it’s being back there or signing a one-day deal like Paul Pierce, I want to make sure that I go out the way I came in.”"

In a way, he’s already fulfilled his manifesto.

If Wade hangs up his pair of Li-Nings, he’ll do so already having donned his classic No. 3 jersey. To this point though, he’s kept quiet on his summer plans.

Thus, if Wade was truly satisfied by his 2018 return to Miami, what’s the hold up on retirement? In 21 games with the Heat he’s received the minutes-long ovations, hit a game-winning shot and put on a classic Flash performance.

Although Wade is still in the driver’s seat at this point of his career – Miami is likely to use it’s $5.3 million taxpayer mid-level exception to sign him – there’s still plenty of details about what a Heat return would entail.

Two years ago, when Kobe Bryant wrapped up his final NBA season, he did so with all of the Hollywood theatrics he could muster. Every crowd, even those packed with most ardent Bryant haters, stood, cheered and paid their respects through his final season.

The Los Angeles Lakers were well within their right to indulge the nightly ceremonies: Laker Nation had little else to celebrate throughout a 17-win season.

As much as Wade deserves such an encore, Miami is in a completely different place than the 2015-16 Lakers. A playoff contender, the Heat need as much focus as possible to keep on the path of improvement. Celebrating Wade’s career all season long in Black Mamba fashion might do more harm than good for a team looking for its identity.

On the contrary, even if Wade doesn’t alert the league that 2018-19 will be his last season, his return still has some kinks to work out.

For one, long-time teammate Udonis Haslem is at a crossroads of his own.

"“When it’s someone you genuinely care about, you support the decisions they make,” Haslem said of his and Wade’s upcoming decisions. “Our relationship goes beyond the game of basketball. Do we want to retire together? In a perfect world, it would be great to finish it together. But things don’t always work out like that.”"

Recognizing the possibility that both walk their separate ways after their mid-season reunion is a tough pill to swallow. Heat fans have generally latched on to the idea that Wade and Haslem, progenitors of the 2006 Heat championship, would spend their final NBA days together, sharing the bench and court like a pair of grandfathers sharing war-stories on the porch.

How much Haslem’s decision affects Wade’s however, is uncertain. The University of Florida product has toyed with playing overseas next season, which could negatively impact a Wade return.

Still, other caveats such as whether Miami will be a competitive team next year or what kind post-retirement life Wade has ahead could all be slowing his decision making.

Thankfully, Wade has time to make his choice. Miami has kept their clutches on the mid-level exception to retain him, and have been pacing themselves this offseason to keep the possibility of a Wade return open.

Next: Is LeBron James going to remain a Laker or come back to the Miami Heat?

But if this is the end, then Wade can step into the light with no regrets. He’s kept Miami in his heart over these 15 years, and that’s victory enough.