Loyalty in business means nothing, and if you didn’t believe it before you will after this next sentence. Three time NBA champion Dwyane Wade has agreed to a two year, $47.5 million deal with the Chicago Bulls.
After being offered a two year, $40 million from the Miami Heat once they were out of the running for Kevin Durant, the Heat never increased their offer to Wade again despite his request for $50 million and a third year on the deal. There were reports that Miami would be willing to increase Wade’s salary to $50 million, but they were not willing to cave in on the third year.
Wade, who averaged 19 points on 46 percent shooting with 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game last season, became increasingly annoyed by the Heat organization asking him to sacrifice pay to bring in another superstar. The Heat moved early to get a commitment from Hassan Whiteside and ultimately had him sign a 4 year, $98 million deal to stay in Miami. But according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Miami originally offered Dwyane Wade a one year, $10 million deal which is a significant cut from his $20 million salary last season.
According to a report from ESPN.com, the acrimony between the two sides increased throughout the week with Wade holding meetings with the Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Chicago Bulls. Yesterday, ESPN and Miami Herald Columnist Dan Le Batard even reported that LeBron James was willing to take a significant paycut to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though that never materialized, what was obviously true was that the relationship between Wade and the organization that crowned him a “Heat Lifer” after LeBron James left for Cleveland two seasons ago had soured.
The Bulls are now moving to send Mike Dunleavy Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers within one of their trade exceptions and are sending Jose Calderon to the Los Angeles Lakers to create the room necessary to add Wade in.
As far as the basketball fit goes for Chicago, they’ll have Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler as a three-headed backcourt with Nikola Mirotic and Robin Lopez as their probable two front court starters. This lineup is devoid of shooting, but every player in it is crafty and can move without the ball.
Despite that fact, it’s difficult to play and be competitive in today’s NBA without shooting. Seeing this lineup work at all, or any lineup featuring their three headed backcourt for that matter, is difficult. Their minutes will likely have to be staggered, and it would not be surprising to see either Wade or Rondo eventually coming off of the bench.
For Miami, they’re left with a gaping hole at shooting guard that can be filled by Josh Richardson as a supplementary player and shooter. Goran Dragic will be their lead ball handler now, and though he was a decidedly average player last season overall with a 15.5 PER, he had a better showing after the All-Star break where he averaged 17 points six assists and four rebounds per 36 minutes.
Still, that sample is small and may not be indicative of his overall play in Miami. The Heat aren’t a fast paced team and every team Dragic has flourished on has used pace to its advantage. Playing with a plodding big man like Hassan Whiteside and a quick, but not fast, Chris Bosh does not help matters.
But with Wade gone, that allows the floor to open up more for Dragic. The ball will be in his hands more with another shooting presence on the wing. The Heat still have to fill out the rest of their roster, but if they can place shooters around Dragic they may be in a good place offensively.
But the free agency well is running dry fast. Teams with the top players on the market, aside from Durant and Horford, were quick to retain their key pieces. Because of the influx of money available, the next tier of players moved quickly to sign deals for near max dollars. The choices left for Miami are mid-level bench players, a few young prospects and NBA journeyman.
But if there is one thing the Miami Heat have proven they can do, it’s find diamonds in the rough and find them at a cheap price. Hassan Whiteside, who is now their best player, was out of the league for years. Josh Richardson was a second round pick. Tyler Johnson, who just signed a massive deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
Speaking of Johnson, the Heat do still have the opportunity to match the Nets deal and bring him back to the team. But that’s unlikely because of the poison pill nature of his contract. The Nets will pay Johsnon $5.6 million and $5.9 million in year one and year two of his four year deal, but they’ll be paying $18.9 and $19.6 million over the final two years of it. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but with Wade’s departure they may consider it.
The Heat are going to have to start over. After branding their organization as the most familial in the league and branding Wade a “Heat Lifer,” Miami went back on their promise to keep things together. Where do they go from here? Who knows. But for the first time in 13 years, they won’t have their future Hall of Famer shooting guard leading them through it all.