Ethan J. Skolnick of the Miami Herald reported Tuesday that efforts to work out a new contract between the high-profile free agent and the Heat have gotten "ugly." In turn, the Cavs have entered the equation as a potential landing spot, though the financial situation would make it difficult.
The 34-year-old guard is due back in the United States on Tuesday after a trip to Spain and will carefully weigh his options, according to Skolnick. The report noted he's yet to choose whether to seek familiarity with the Heat, friendship with the Cavs or simply the best contract available.
Michael Wallace of ESPN.com previously reported the Heat have offered Wade a two-year contract worth $40 million to keep him in Miami. He noted the sides were about $10 million apart, with the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks also looming with interest.
Last week, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press provided comments from the 12-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion, who said he would ideally continue to play for the Heat but stopped well short of a firm commitment:
Hopefully, if everything goes well this summer for this organization and for myself, we'll give ourselves another chance.
We've had a few down years out of my 13 years here, but for the most part we stay pretty competitive, and we stay pretty darn close. With the right moves and the right acquisitions, we can put ourselves right in the conversation.
Ultimately, he sounds like a player who wants to contend for titles, and at age 34, it's hard to blame him for maintaining a short-term outlook. But with Kevin Durant announcing his decision to join the Golden State Warriors on Monday, via the Players' Tribune, the number of true championship contenders is limited.
Wade could join one of the teams in that select group by heading to Cleveland. He and James won a pair of titles together in Miami, and the veteran slasher would give the Cavaliers another offensive weapon for a possible third straight NBA Finals meeting with Golden State.
Whether the Cavs front office could make it work is the question. Current projections show Cleveland around $26 million over the salary cap, according to Spotrac, which doesn't leave much wiggle room for a player seeking upward of $20 million from the Heat.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com noted there's been "no traction" in talks with the Cavaliers because of the cap status, which leaves them with just a $3.4 million midlevel exception to offer at this stage.
That's why Skolnick's source described the situation as "a long shot." But it's an idea that may begin to pick up steam if Wade's negotiations with the Heat don't take a turn for the better in the near future. Cleveland would need to get creative to make it work, though.