Dwyane Wade and the Heat had different priorities in free agency, which is what led to a messy breakup of their 13-year relationship, writes Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago. When Wade announced in early July that he was accepting a two-year, $47MM offer from the Bulls, it marked the end of a long process in which he felt he didn’t get the respect he had earned for his accomplishments in Miami. Or as Wade puts it, “I found out very quickly that this is a business.”
The Heat set two priorities in free agency — re-signing Hassan Whiteside and reaching out to Kevin Durant. They needed to be able to offer max deals to both players, which limited the amount that was left to offer Wade. “At the end of the day,” Wade said, “I talked to those guys and I told them, ‘It’s free agency. I understand y’all have a job to do, and I have a job to do as well.’ I let it be known I was going to be a free agent and I wasn’t waiting by the phone for them to call me.”
The Heat were able to re-sign Whiteside on the first day of free agency and were one of five finalists for Durant. When he chose the Warriors, many assumed it was a formality to bring back Wade, but too many bridges had already been burned. Privately, the Heat front office was concerned about giving a max deal to a 34-year-old player, even one with Wade’s history. And Wade felt disrespected by being third in line.
“I did my homework because I understand Hassan was a priority, which he should’ve been,” Wade explained. “I understood that they were trying to go out and get KD, because that’s something they wanted to do. But I had to look out for myself and put myself in a situation that I wanted to be in if things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to work out, and they didn’t.”
Wade’s return to Miami in a visiting uniform will take place Thursday night. He insists that he still has a good relationship with the Heat organization and has talked with everyone except team president Pat Riley. But whatever emotions may accompany his homecoming, Wade made it clear that he has already moved on with his basketball life.
“I don’t know how many more years I have left to play this game,” he said. “It’s about doing what I want to do at this moment. Not saying I didn’t do what I wanted, I always did what I wanted, but it’s continuing to have the ability to do that. And I did. I put myself first for once. I didn’t say, hey, I waited on Miami to come to me. At the end of the day, I could’ve come back to Miami and made great money. The contract they offered me was good. By the time it got to me, my heart was somewhere else.”