By Ira Winderman/Sun Sentinel
The latest NBA free-agency stalemate with guard Dwyane Wade comes in the wake of a two-year, $40mn offer from the Miami Heat.
The Heat offer, which remains on the table, was confirmed to the Sun Sentinel by a party close to the negotiations.
According to the party, the Heat offer, which is for a flat $20mn for each of the two seasons, would allow Wade to opt out after the first of the two seasons and re-enter free agency next summer, when the NBA salary cap is again expected to make another quantum leap.
Wade earned $20mn on a one-year deal this past season, but salaries for commensurate players have exceeded that figure since Friday’s start of NBA free agency.
Wade apparently is seeking an additional year at such a rate or higher from the Heat.
A $20mn salary next season would put him third on the Heat’s payroll and the two-year offer would put him fourth in terms of committed total salary going forward.
Forward Chris Bosh, who remains hopeful of returning from the blood clots that have sidelined him over the second half of each of the past two seasons, is due $23.7mn next season, with $76 million due over the next three seasons. Center Hassan Whiteside on Friday agreed to a four-year, $98mn free-agency contract that will pay $22mn next season. Beyond that, guard Goran Dragic will earn $15.9mn next season, still due $70mn over the next four seasons.
Wade, who turns 35 in January, indicated at season’s end he did not believe he was close to his career finish line, coming off one of his most productive and healthiest seasons in years.
“I hope that everything is quiet and works out the way I want it to,” he said after the Heat were eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals by the Toronto Raptors. “But I have no control over that, as much as people might think.
“It’s a lot of moving parts in free agency. I’m not worried about it. I’m not getting into how many years I want to play. Just because I sign a contract doesn’t mean it’s going to be it, that I’m going to play that contract out. The contract I look to sign this summer is something I hope I’m comfortable with.”
What is on the table apparently is not the case.
The Heat have slow-played Wade’s free agency, first locking up Whiteside and then awaiting a free-agency decision from Kevin Durant, who on Monday committed to the Golden State Warriors.
Heat President Pat Riley went into the offseason stressing more than financial remuneration when it came to Wade.
“Compensation to a player,” Riley said, “is not just a way to get paid and live your life. Compensation to a player is about recognition and respect and a place. And so, we know where he belongs.
“When we get down and discuss it will be predicated on a lot of factors. He’s a lifer. What he’s done in this city over the last 13 years is irreplaceable. So, we
want to do the right thing. There’s no doubt.”
According to an NBA agent not involved in the Wade negotiations, among the options for the Heat to resolve the impasse would be a third year on a Wade contract with contingencies, possibly partially guaranteed or a deal that locks in some or all of the 2018-19 salary based on Wade performance either this coming season or the following season.
Wade previously had been linked to free-agent interest from the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls. The Knicks, however, instead utilised cap space on Charlotte Hornets free-agent guard Courtney Lee, while the Bulls utilised their cap space on Sacramento Kings free-agent guard Rajon Rondo.
The Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets continue to remain linked to interest in Wade, although it is not known if any outside team would be willing to go to three years at $60mn total, with the NBA salary cap again expected to flatten after 2017 free agency.
Wade has been at similar crossroads with the Heat in free agency in 2010, when he was linked to negotiations with his hometown Chicago Bulls before signing with the Heat along with Bosh and LeBron James, as well as last summer, when a threat of outside negotiations was present.
Free-agent contracts cannot be finalised until tomorrow, at the end of the NBA’s signing moratorium period.
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