Heat president of basketball operations Pat Riley made it plain in his postdraft press conference that he’d prefer that Dwyane Wade stayed with the team, as Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post recounts. Still, he hinted that Wade will indeed opt out, making a pair of references to July 1st as a starting point for talks.
“The one thing that I’ve learned about free agency is that when a player has an opportunity to be a free agent, you give him the space and the time to think about that,” Riley said. “We love Dwyane. Dwyane is a pillar. He has been part of the root structure and the foundation of this franchise for the last 12 years. … We know that on July 1, we’ll be the first ones that he’ll talk to and we’ll go from there.”
The Heat exec also said that he and Wade haven’t had any “real discussions,” adding that such talks couldn’t take place until July 1st, Lieser notes via Twitter. Riley expressed that he would be comfortable if the 33-year-old turned down his $16.125MM option for next season, if he indeed does so, adding that he’s “not a pessimist” about the prospect of re-signing him, according to Lieser. A lack of pessimism doesn’t necessarily mean optimism, observes Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald. Wade reportedly feels as though the Heat have damaged the trust in their relationship, but Riley said Wade hasn’t told him he feels disrespected, Lieser conveys.
Wade is reportedly open to leaving the Heat and would welcome $20MM salaries on a new three-year deal, while the Heat would prefer that he opt in this summer and sign for $10MM salaries beginning in 2016/17, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported. The Lakers, who have the cap room necessary to pay Wade what he’s looking for, reportedly have mutual interest, though it’s unclear if the Lakers are willing to go quite as high with an offer as Wade would like. The Heat would pay repeat-offender tax penalties if they finish the coming season above the projected $81.6MM tax threshold, a likelihood if they re-sign all of their own free agents and don’t make salary-clearing moves.