Longtime Heat superstar Dwyane Wade is eligible to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, at which point it's assumed he'll stay in Miami. His destination far from a mystery, only one question remains: How much money will he command?
Overpaying aging players with a history of knee problems is normally frowned upon, but the Los Angeles Lakers recently handed the 35-year-old Kobe Bryant a two-year extension worth $48.5 million, setting the market for 30-something shooting guards insanely high.
Naturally, Wade was asked what he planned to do this summer. Would he demand a "Kobe-style" deal, or would he take the Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan route by accepting a substantial pay cut to preserve Miami's cap flexibility?
"D-Wade is getting that Kobe deal," LeBron interjected before Wade could answer, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
Easy for LeBron to say—it's not his money the Heat would be investing. Chiming in on Wade's contract status also means he doesn't have to talk about his own, so that's a plus.
After chortling (I assume) at LeBron's interruption, Wade, who understands how sensitive this issue is, gave a more diplomatic answer.
"When I get into that position, it’s something I’ll think about," he explained, via Windhorst. "You have to sit down at the time and see what is best for you and for your team."
There you have it. Wade is neither Kobe, who told Lakers Nation's Serena Winters in July he wasn't accepting a pay cut, nor Dirk Nowitzki, who told ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon last May that he was open to a "significant" pay reduction when his current contract is up this summer.
Miami's dignitary falls somewhere in between, opting for the wait-and-see approach as opposed to making bold claims he may come to regret later.
Smart move, D-Wade. Smart move.
The Heat and Wade don't know what situation they'll be looking at this July. How healthy will the All-Star be? What will it take for LeBron to stay in Miami as well? Are there any other free agents the Heat plan on chasing? All of these are questions presently without an answer. Once Miami knows what its outlook is, the two sides can talk brass tax.
For what it's worth, Windhorst does a nice job of breaking down some potential scenarios:
Here is the situation. Next summer Wade has an opt out in his contract. He is owed $20 million next year and $21 million in 2015-16. It is reasonable to think that Wade, who turns 32 in January, will not opt out and just collect that money. But Wade could also re-do his contract and, if the Heat agreed, get a four-year deal worth up to nearly $100 million. Or the sides could do a deal for anything in between. Basically, the Heat could ask Wade to take a pay cut and make it up to him by adding years to his deal.
Kobe's extension—which he told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski wasn't a negotiation—sets a precedent, but it's not law. These are two different players, playing in different situations.
Wade showed a willingness to sacrifice in 2010, when LeBron first joined the Heatles. And he's been sacrificing ever since, agreeing to play the part of LeBron's sidekick. It's not unreasonable to imagine him making yet another concession.
"You have to do what is best for you," Wade ultimately said, via Windhorst.
In Wade-speak, it's safe to assume that means he'll do whatever is best for the Heat.