3:58pm: A Heat spokesperson confirmed to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel that Wade is indeed opting out (Twitter link).
2:35pm: Dwyane Wade will turn down his $16.125MM player option to instead hit free agency, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The news isn’t altogether surprising, as Wade had been hinting as much since Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported last month that he was open to leaving the only NBA team he’s ever played for. Marc Stein of ESPN.com earlier today suggested that the Heat expected Wade to opt out, though they were expected Luol Deng to opt out before he surprisingly opted in. Goran Dragic is “basically a lock” to return to Miami, Stein reported, though Jackson wrote last month that the chances of Dragic leaving increase if Wade signs with another team.
The Heat have preferred that Wade opt in and sign for $10MM salaries next summer, though Wade, Henry Thomas client, would welcome $20MM a year for three years, as Jackson reported. Wade and the Lakers apparently have mutual interest and the same is reportedly true of the Clippers. LeBron James seems interested in recruiting him to the Cavs, but Wade and Heat have nonetheless appeared eager to find a solution that keeps them together. Still, a friend of Wade’s told Jackson recently that the 33-year-old shooting guard has become angry with Miami and doesn’t feel the team regards him as a priority. Team president Pat Riley spoke highly of Wade a few days ago, saying in part that, “We love Dwyane. Dwyane is a pillar.”
At issue is Miami’s salary crunch, as the team has about $53MM in guaranteed salaries already on the books with Deng having opted in. A deal approaching the max, which is likely to come in around $19MM, for Dragic, plus a $20MM salary for Wade would send the team far above the projected $81.6MM tax line. Riley denied a recent report that the team is looking to trade Chris Andersen and Mario Chalmers in a deal that could clear about $10MM in salary.