Based on the direction Dwyane Wade decides to go in with his two-year contract option, someone is going to lose.
That much is all but inevitable.
Wade is currently faced with three potential choices as the Heat head into the 2014-15 offseason:
- He could exercise his current contract option, in which case the Heat would be forced to pay Wade $41 million over the next two seasons.
- He could opt out of his current contract with the Heat and hit the free-agency market.
- He could opt out of his current contract with the Heat and renegotiate a lower salary to stay in Miami.
There is no question that the Miami Heat organization and its fans are hoping that Wade chooses to opt out of his current contract and renegotiate a new contract at a lower rate to stay in Miami.
With that being said, it’s unlikely that Pat Riley and the Heat would lose much sleep if Wade decided to leave Miami and hit the free-agent market this offseason, based on Wade’s dreadful performance during the last two NBA Finals.
This is simply the business of professional sports.
It makes no difference what Wade has done for the organization throughout the years. He is now a liability because the Heat could be forced to pay him far more than he is worth.
Like any successful organization, the Heat will do whatever they possibly can to avoid paying Wade $41 million over the next two seasons.
This may sound ruthless to some, but every single NBA player knows this going into the league. To paraphrase Hyman Roth from The Godfather: Part II, this is the business they've chosen.
While the Heat’s position on the matter of Wade’s contract would be based on what makes the most business sense for the organization, fans seem to be forming their position based more on raw emotion.
No one in Miami wants to see any of the Big Three head for the door—especially not Wade.
Wade has given the Heat organization and its fanbase a great deal over the past 11 years, including five trips to the Finals and three NBA titles.
Had Wade not taken a pay cut and invited James and Bosh to a team that he was the undisputed leader of, it’s unlikely that the Heat would have enjoyed even half of the success they have experienced over the past four years.
So if it were up to Heat fans, James, Bosh and Wade would all stay in Miami while Riley would pull another rabbit out of his hat and reel in a big-time free agent such as Carmelo Anthony for the 2014-15 season.
However, there is realistically only one way for that scenario to play out, and that is if Wade decides to renegotiate his contract and take yet another substantial pay cut.
Of course, it is possible for James and Bosh to endure the pay cut needed to bring in another big-time free agent such as Anthony.
But that is very unlikely for one key reason: James and Bosh are actually still worth the $20 million the organization would need to pay each of them during the next two seasons, should they decide to exercise their contract options.
The lose-lose scenario for Wade comes down to this: Should Wade decide to exercise his option and collect $41 million over the next two years, it is almost a certainty that at least James—and possibly Bosh—would leave Miami and Wade would be blamed for the collapse of the Big Three.
If Wade decides to renegotiate his contract with Miami or hit the free-agency market, James and Bosh may stay in town, but Wade will lose out on a large sum of money during what will undoubtedly be the final two seasons where he would possess any kind of substantial earning potential.
Throughout all of the hoopla surrounding what could now be described as “The Decision Part II,” what no one seems to be asking is, what is best for Wade?
After all, it’s Wade’s decision, and he is the one holding all of the cards heading into the 2014-15 offseason.
Wade is older than both James and Bosh, and endured a pay cut during the final four years of his prime just so that Miami could build another championship team.
While Wade’s intentions were not completely selfless—after all, Wade wanted to win another championship as much as anyone when he lured James and Bosh to Miami—it could certainly be argued that Wade gave up more than the other two members of the Big Three during the past four years.
These next two years will also be Wade’s final chance to earn a significant salary before either retiring or seeing his value drop dramatically.
So if you took just a moment to view the situation through Wade’s eyes, you would quickly come to the conclusion that Wade would have to be insane to opt out of his two-year, $41 million option and take yet another pay cut to stay in Miami.
Though we are obviously talking about sums of money that most of us could not even fathom, let’s put this decision into the context of an everyday situation that we could all relate to.
You have a two-year guaranteed contract option at your company that is set to earn you $100,000 per year for the next two years, but your manager walks up to your desk and says, “Hey, pal, we would like you to opt out of your current contract and take $60,000 per year for the next two years instead so that we can bring in a marketing stud.”
After you finish laughing in your manager’s face for even bringing a request of this nature to your desk, one would surmise that virtually every single one of you reading this article would emphatically decline your manager's request.
So why, then, should Wade accept an option such as this just to appease the Miami Heat organization and its fanbase?
If Riley approaches Wade with an offer to opt out of his contract and take a substantially lower salary for the next two years, Wade would be well within his right to laugh in Riley’s face and counter with a resounding “No!”
Let’s be honest, that is exactly what any of you would do if your manager approached you with a similar proposition.
Just because paying Wade $41 million is not a desirable option for the Miami Heat organization—and on an emotional level many Heat fans want to see Wade sacrifice yet again for the good of the team—that doesn’t make opting out the right decision for Wade.
This is something that Heat fans should keep in mind before berating Wade if he does indeed decide to exercise the contract option that he is rightfully entitled to.
Contract information courtesy of HoopsHype.