With the Miami Heat failing in their attempts to acquire Amar'e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer, the team now turns back to their original plans of making a major acquisition in the offseason.
While the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Washington Wizards, L.A. Clippers, and Sacramento Kings made a plethora of combined trades to give them major cap relief after the season, Miami was caught on the sidelines watching their advantage disappear.
Before the trade machine got rolling earlier this week, the Heat and Sacramento Kings were the only teams expected to have enough cap space to potentially sign two players to max contracts in the offseason. Now they are joined by all the teams above.
This summer's free agent bonanza just got a whole lot more interesting. And it's only February.
Chicago and New York were already expected to make a run for Wade, but now they can offer him the chance to possibly play alongside LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire, or Joe Johnson.
A team with Derrick Rose and any of those names would have to be enticing for Wade. If Miami isn't able to convince him the team will contend next year, the Chicago native would have a hard time saying no to a Bulls offer like that.
Same goes for New York. Would Wade really pass up the chance to play alongside LeBron in The Garden?
With so many teams free to enter the bidding for the max free agents, the odds for everyone landing two of these guys became diluted at the deadline. With seven franchises all targeting the same three or four players, it's hard to imagine more than one or two teams walking away with a pair of All-Stars.
Pat Riley's chances of bringing in a superstar to pair with Wade aren't looking as good anymore and that's got to be chilling for him. If the Heat don't make a major upgrade, if they don't land any of the big names, how could they expect Wade to stick around.
Yes, Wade seems sincere in his desire to remain with the Heat, but he's been vocal about the conditions for doing so. He wants to contend. Miami needs to bring him some serious firepower and not waste yet another year of his prime fighting for one of the bottom seeds in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
You can bet Riley has shared his vision of the 2010-11 season with his perennial All-Star. Wade has no reason not to trust him either; after all, Riley's delivered a Championship roster before. But if things don't work out how they're supposed to, the franchise will have all but assured Wade walks. Riley has kept him waiting for two years with promises of a dynasty, Wade won't wait another.
So while other teams made moves to increase their chances of free agency gold, Miami has fallen back with the rest of the herd. Being able to offer two max deals isn't so special anymore. Instead of Wade recruiting LeBron to the Heat, it may just end up being LeBron recruiting Wade to New York or Chicago.