According to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Miami Heat are discussing a potential plan to limit Dwyane Wade's minutes. Winderman reports that Wade isn't expected to be open to rest, but Miami plans to protect their star as they prepare for a push for their third consecutive NBA championship.
Whether D-Wade likes it or not, this's a plan the Heat must execute.
No one will question Wade's value to the Heat, especially after he ranked seventh in the NBA in Player Efficiency Rating during the 2012-13 regular season. With that being said, Wade missed 17 games in 2011-12 and 13 outings in 2012-13 due to injury.
That's exactly why his health is the focus of Miami's offseason, per Winderman.
If you think the Heat medical, training and coaching staffs aren't coming up with a course of action for next season, you're fooling yourself. Plenty is being discussed this offseason to make sure that Dwyane's health doesn't create doubts with the rest of the roster (as 2014 free agency looms).
Each of the points made has its own form of merit.
Wade is a legitimate superstar who owns the 2006 NBA Finals MVP award, three NBA championships and one scoring title. While some may claim that his efficiency is a result of LeBron James' presence, Wade has been one of the most prolific players in NBA history for a decade.
His career averages of 24.7 points, 6.1 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks on 48.9 percent shooting from the field should be evidence enough.
Wade is also a slasher who carried an organization for the better part of a decade. The taxing nature of his style of play has begun to show in recent years, even if only appearing in his availability as opposed to his quality of play.
That's the very reason Miami can't afford to risk Wade's heath during the regular season.
Defining Wade's Value
With LeBron taking over as the primary ball-handler, Wade has become a player without a defined role within the offense. He's never been much of a jump shooter, scores a majority of his points in the paint and is at his best with the ball in his hands.
If Wade is what Miami calls second fiddle, however, the Heat are in a very good place.
Wade finished the 2012-13 season with averages of 21.2 points, 5.1 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals on 52.1 percent shooting from the field. For those who believe that's a product of LeBron, Wade shot at least 49.0 percent from the field with higher averages in every area but steals in three of the five seasons before James arrived.
Plain and simple, Wade is the best right-hand man one could ever imagine.
Wade plays extraordinary offensive basketball, attacking off of the bounce and defending as well as one could possibly ask. If that's not enough, the former Marquette star is a premier postseason performer with a championship pedigree.
Losing Wade due to a lack of regular-season caution would be a mix of criminal and crippling.
Throughout the duration of his career, Wade has been known for his world-class playmaking ability. While it's no secret that he can create turnovers and turn them into points, he's only reached the second team All-Defensive squad three times.
With an improved effort on that end, Wade has become a truly great defender.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, no shooting guard has posted as many seasons with at least 1.0 block per game as D-Wade, who owns six. Second to Wade are George Gervin and Michael Jordan, who each own four.
Per Basketball-Reference.com, Wade is also one of four players in NBA history to average 1.0 block per game while standing less than 6'4" or shorter. No other player has more than two.
It's that type of quality play that makes Wade so valuable, specifically during the postseason. Not only can he disrupt a star scorer's rhythm, but he pairs with LeBron to make for one of the best defensive perimeters in all of basketball.
It's that formation that could decide whether or not James re-signs.
2014 Free Agency
During the summer of 2014, Wade, James and Chris Bosh will all be eligible to enter unrestricted free agency. There's no telling whether or not any of those three men will choose to depart, but the option is available.
If LeBron doesn't feel as if he can win another title with Wade and Bosh, it's more than probable he will choose to sign elsewhere.
Wade is 31 years old and his health appears to be more on the decline than reaching a steady rate of consistency. This puts the Heat in a difficult position, as Wade's presence is a primary factor in Miami's push for the NBA championship.
With multiple superstars set to become free agents in both 2014 and 2015, that gives LeBron the option of either remaining with the Heat for the long haul or taking his talents elsewhere.
This isn't an attack on LeBron's character, and anyone who makes it that way is in the wrong. The truth of the matter is, LeBron is 28 years old, in the prime of his career and has a chance to add multiple rings to his trophy case. Staying with a team with a less than adequate future is out of the question.
Wade's health will determine just how much longer James remains in Miami.