Why Dwyane Wade's Future with Miami Heat Should Not Be in Question

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 18, 2014

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For Dwyane Wade, there really is no question on how he should handle his future with the Miami Heat.

The smart play, according to logic and even Wade himself, is simple: take the money and stay.

The 32-year-old can opt out of his current contract this summer, an option shared by Big Three running mates Chris Bosh and LeBron James. If the trio does nothing, it will collect more than $60 million combined in 2014-15, via ShamSports.com.

After watching this group get systematically destroyed by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, standing pat does not appear to be a viable option. Roster upgrades are needed in a bad way, a fact highlighted by the historic separation the Spurs left between themselves and the Heat:

From the outside looking in, Wade appears to be the most pivotal piece of Miami's reclamation effort. He's collecting a superstar's paycheck but seemingly playing himself out of that status.

Despite a carefully managed health maintenance program, the 10-time All-Star still limped to the final stretch. He was a non-factor in the championship round (15.2 points on 43.8 percent shooting), numbers that haunted Heat fans, as Wade said they were unrelated to his health.

"I just struggled a little bit," he told reporters, via Michael Wallace of ESPN.com. "As I told you guys, I'm never going to point at anything physically. I felt fine."

Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Assuming Wade was doing nothing more than declining any excuses—the game film suggested he was far from fine—that opens an ominous door into Miami's future. If keeping him out of 28 games couldn't save his body, what possibly could?

And what if those struggles really weren't affected by his health? Well, that's a far more terrifying prospect for the team still on the hook for an eight-figure commitment to him and his future.

Convincing Wade to opt out of his current deal for a longer contract with a smaller annual salary could help ease some of those concerns. The less Miami's cap space is tied up in a potentially fading star, the more freedom the franchise will have to add some needed impact players.

According to Bleacher Report insider Ethan Skolnick, that's a sales pitch Miami may well make over the offseason.

On the Heat's end, making that call should not be difficult.

Retaining James is their primary concern, and they need better bargaining chips than a patchwork roster built around the Big Three. James has already suggested as much.

"Obviously we would need to get better from every facet, every position," he said, per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

It's hard to imagine Wade experiencing many internal improvements. While he's become a more efficient scorer of late, his work has suffered a dramatic loss in volume. He's sat out 58 games over the past three seasons, and the lack of a consistent perimeter shot (career 28.9 three-point percentage) could make the aging process even more difficult.

Now, that is the Heat's motivation for pursuing this potential path to roster upgrades. But where does the intrigue lay on Wade's side?

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Yes, he'd be helping to widen Miami's championship window. Yes, he could buy himself some extra time sharing the floor with the best player on the planet.

However, doing so would require major sacrifices on his end. Sacrifices he may no longer be willing to make.

"I will never feel like I have to take less after this, or have to do this. It's not my job," he said earlier this month, via ESPN.com's Michael Wallace. "It's the job of others around to figure out how to make it work. If I want to be a part of that, then I'll be a part of that. But if I don't, I won't. It's simple as that."

Wade has given up a lot to make this championship squad a reality. He took less money than James and Bosh when all three signed on the dotted line in 2010. He ceded control of Wade County, he accepted the Robin role alongside James' Batman.

At what point does Wade decide he's given enough? It's not as if he's likely to see another $20 million-plus salary in his future.

There's nothing selfish about making that decision. He didn't force the Heat to extend that contract offer, he simply agreed to the one placed in front of him. His market value has already been set. Willingly taking less than that simply is not a good business decision.

At the end of the day, that is what this is: a business decision.

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 15: Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photogra
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Wade hasn't shut the door on a potential pay cut, but it could be closing soon.

As Heat sources told Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News in February, "The days of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh sacrificing millions for the good of the team are over."

James could get max money wherever he goes. That isn't likely to change any time soon. Bosh, who turned 30 in March, could have one more jackpot payday in his future if he acts now.

Wade doesn't have that same luxury. If there are still major earnings in his future, they won't be like the ones he enjoyed in his past.

Unless, of course, he opts to receive the ones still owed to him. The ones he earned during years of superstar service and individual sacrifices.

Wade has put in the work needed to secure such lucrative paychecks. The fact that he's cashing them and could continue to do so in the future should surprise no one.


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