Wade's Situation Looms Over Heat Season

July 21, 2017 - 2:36 pm

What's been the recent hot topic on The Ticket's afternoon show with Chris Perkins and Curtis Stevenson? There's been a lot of conversation about the Miami Heat roster and when the other shoe -- a Li Ning shoe -- will drop. 
Such is the continued fascination with the status of Dwyane Wade, the 12-time All-Star and Miami Heat all-time scoring leader, who is clearly not content being part of a rebuilding project in Chicago. Wade opted into the final year of his two-year contract, largely because it pays him $23.8 million. But that doesn't mean he'll stay there the entire season, if he can agree to a buyout with the Bulls. 
The Bulls have made it clear that they will only agree to an arrangement that benefits them, but let's play the game for a moment. What if Wade shakes free? Should the Heat, after retaining all but Willie Reed from the 2016-17 rotation -- while adding Kelly Olynyk and rookie forward Bam Adebayo -- be interested in re-acquiring their franchise icon?
Of course they should, especially since they still have a vehicle handy: their $4.3 million room exception. This isn't just about sentimentality either. Wade can still play, averaging 19 points last season even as his shooting percentage dipped some to 43 percent. While Wade's addition would crowd the backcourt further, his return would likely come with an understanding of a reduced role, especially after Dion Waiters' emergence last season. Already, Waiters has made it clear on social media that he'd be happy to accommodate Wade. And Wade, while playing at a slower pace than Waiters or Goran Dragic, would be welcome as an additional facilitator, adept at feeding the ball to Hassan Whiteside in the center's preferred spots. 
How would the minutes shake out, with Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson and shooting specialist Wayne Ellington all viable guard options? Richardson and Ellington would still find some time in three-guard alignments. Johnson would likely be most affected if he's around, or he could be moved in a trade, perhaps for more help at small forward. Johnson is a talented, versatile player, and still a relative bargain this season, but his contract expands after that, so the Heat could explore the market. 

Miami did well this offseason, recovering from Gordon Hayward's rejection to keep the core of a cohesive squad. But, as was apparent in the response to the show conversation this week, that won't be enough for many Heat fans. Until No. 3's situation is resolved, the Wade Watch will go on. 

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