Dwyane Wade

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Ingram, Rondo, Walton

After a decade and a half as competitors and teammates, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are preparing for their final meeting tomorrow night, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Wade, who hasn’t relented on plans to retire after this season, will travel with the Heat to meet LeBron and the Lakers in L.A.

“It’s bitter, and it’s sweet,” James said. “It’s sweet and sour. The sweet part about it is I’ve always loved being on the same floor with my brother. We struck up a relationship together at the combine in 2003, and it started from there. And the sour part about it is that this is our last time sharing the same court.”

James was destined for stardom as the top pick in the 2003 draft. Wade was taken at No. 5 and quickly established himself as an All-Star in Miami. They won a pair of championships as teammates with the Heat, then briefly reunited last season in Cleveland. Wade’s retirement will leave Kyle Korver and Zaza Pachulia as the only other active members of the 2003 draft class.

“The older I get and the more I’m in the game, I gain even that much more respect for these guys — the legends that we’re starting to lose along the way,” said Lakers center Tyson Chandler. “… You cherish every moment you get to compete against those type of competitors.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Brandon Ingram‘s sprained left ankle will keep him out of action longer than expected, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The team’s second-leading scorer at 15.2 PPG, Ingram will miss at least another week. “We really just miss the fact that we keep losing out on a great opportunity for our team to kind of find that rhythm together,” coach Luke Walton said. “Every time we start to find a little bit of a rhythm, we lose a big piece.”
  • Rajon Rondo is still experiencing swelling in his broken right hand, tweets Mike Trudell of NBA.com. However, the swelling is considered normal and isn’t a sign that Rondo’s recovery will take longer than expected. He was given a four- to five-week projection to return after the November 15 operation.
  • A brief experience with the Memphis Tigers provided Walton with the inspiration to become an NBA coach, relays Jason Munz of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Walton joined a former Arizona teammate on the college team’s staff during the 2011 lockout. “I went back and played for a few years after that,” Walton said, “but it was pretty evident to me after that that coaching was what I wanted to do when I got done playing.”

Southeast Notes: Vucevic, Simmons, Wizards, Wade

The hiring of Steve Clifford in Orlando has improved the game of Magic big man Nikola Vucevic to a new level, writes Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. Vucevic, who recently averaged a cool 30.5 PPG in back-to-back road games against the Lakers and Warriors, is playing so well  that at least one advanced statistical metric has him ranked ahead of Kevin Durant and James Harden.

As Helin notes, Vucevic is giving credit to Clifford for putting him in better situations this season, which has sparked his improved numbers. Specifically, Vucevic took 56 percent of his shots last season within eight feet of the rim, whereas this season that number is up to 65 percent. Meanwhile, the shots the 28-year-old center is taking from beyond the arc of lesser in number, but higher in efficiency. His three-point percentage has jumped from 31.4 percent a year ago to 39 percent this season.

“The way we play now, it helps me playing inside-out, it gets me going and makes me more comfortable,” Vucevic said. “Last year I felt I was a little too much on the perimeter, space the floor, which is fine, but at the same time [this season’s style] makes it much more difficult for the other team and gives them a different look. It works great for me because I get some easy ones in the paint and am able to step out… The way coach wants me, wants us, to play fits my skill set.”

Vucevic will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and if his numbers continue at the pace he’s set for himself so far this season, he’s likely to be looking at some lucrative contract offers this summer.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • In other Magic news, swingman Jonathon Simmons was inserted into the starting lineup recently after making a positive impression on Clifford during Sunday’s game against the Lakers, writes John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com. As is often the case, Simmons, 29, impressed his coach with his energy and defense after struggling to find his shot early on this season as a result of offseason surgery on his shooting wrist.
  • The Wizards seem to play best when turmoil strikes, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. In the past couple of weeks, negative stories and/or rumors have emerged regarding John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Dwight Howard. Yet, the Wizards are now winners of three of their last four games and playing their best basketball of the season.
  • Heat great Dwyane Wade isn’t choosing to retire after this season because he feels he can’t physically play anymore. Rather, he simply believes that he’s given everything he can to the game of basketball and wants to give something else a shot, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Dwyane Wade Won’t Be Talked Out Of Retiring

Dwyane Wade isn’t open to a suggestion by Heat president Pat Riley that he play until age 40, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Wade, 36, is in the middle of his 16th and probably final NBA season, which he has dubbed a “One Last Dance” retirement tour. But Riley claimed last week that Wade still has a lot of basketball left.

“I got to get him to play another three more years,” Riley said. “I want him to get to 40. If he has a great year, he might not fall out of love with the game. He might want to just stay in it. That’s my goal.”

Wade has been away from the team on paternity leave for the past seven games and wasn’t aware of Riley’s comments until yesterday, but he doesn’t seem receptive to the idea.

“I appreciate him thinking that,” Wade said. “Could I be swayed? I don’t think so. Not at this point.”

Beyond the sentimental value Wade has to the Heat organization, he remains a productive player. In the 10 games he has played this season, he is putting up a 13.4/3.8/2.8 line in about 24 minutes per night.

Wade is looking forward to retirement to spend more time with his family, including his newborn daughter. She’s too young for an airplane trip, and Miami’s schedule won’t give Wade much free time for the rest of the season.

Wade admits that Riley can be very persuasive, saying “It’s always a chance of everything,” but adds, “I know the chance is very, very, very, very, very slim. I’ve got my mind made up.”

“I’m just going to finish this year out,” he said. “I want to get back into the groove I was in before I left, just for my body feeling great, and just continue to enjoy the game and play the game the way I know I can, even at this age, even in my role, even in my minutes.”

Wade also noted that this isn’t the first time Riley has brought up the idea of playing until 40.

“The one thing is, he said that a long time ago,” Wade said. “He always said he wanted me to play until I was 40. And even when I was 30 I laughed at him, like, ‘It’s no way possible.’ So he continues to have that. I appreciate that.”

Heat Notes: Wade, Waiters, Carmelo

Monday’s loss to Philadelphia was the Heat‘s third straight defeat on their home court, dropping the team’s overall record to 5-8. In the wake of that game, Ethan J. Skolnick of HeatBeatMiami.com spoke to one Heat official who admitted, “We need a trade. Badly.”

However, as Skolnick points out, there’s not really a great trade out there for Miami, especially that Jimmy Butler is now a member of the Sixers. And without a deal that shake things up, it looks like the Heat may be stuck in Eastern Conference purgatory, likely to finish between sixth and ninth in the standings.

As the Heat weigh how to turn things around after a slow start and how to add a difference-making player, let’s round up a few more notes out of Miami…

  • Dwyane Wade remains away from the team as he spends time with his wife and their newborn daughter, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The veteran guard will miss the team’s upcoming games vs. Brooklyn, Indiana, and the Lakers and then will make a decision from there, says Reynolds. “We’re totally fine with it,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
  • Now that Dion Waiters has missed Miami’s first 13 games, he has officially lost out on the $1.2MM bonus he would’ve earned if he had played in 70 contests this season, tweets cap expert Albert Nahmad. That bonus was considered an unlikely incentive since Waiters didn’t play 70 games last year either, so his cap hit will remain unchanged.
  • With Carmelo Anthony‘s future in Houston up in the air, rumors have been swirling about the possibility of Carmelo landing in South Beach. Anthony’s reps discussed a possible deal with the Heat in the summer, and league executives who spoke to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News believes there could still be a fit there. ESPN’s Marc J. Spears also cited the Heat as a potential suitor for Anthony during an appearance on The Jump (hat tip to Anthony Irwin of Silver Screen & Roll). Dave Hyde of The Sun Sentinel isn’t on board with the idea.

Wade Believes Fizdale Can Help Knicks In Free Agency

Dwyane Wade knows David Fizdale from their time together in Miami and he believes the coach is changing the perception of the Knicks‘ organization.

“I think he’s already changed that perception. Players around the league want to play for Fiz,” Wade tells Stefan Bondy of the Daily News. “Now that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen right away because things happen – guys stay in certain places or they go team up with someone else. But if you ask every player around the league who is the coach they want to play for, Fiz’s name would come up.”

Wade added that a team’s coach isn’t the only factor in attracting free agents. Culture will play a role in making New York a desirable landing spot.

“It comes with what the players are doing on the court. It comes with what the organization is doing,” Wade said. “And other things as well. So he’s definitely going to try to change the culture but it’s a lot of other things that goes with it.”

Wade spoke about how Fizdale helped him shape his game. The current Knicks coach joined the Heat as an assistant in 2008 and used his tremendous communication skills to showcase his basketball mind, helping Wade become the player he is today.

“I allowed him to take my game to the place where I could still play now at 36 without having the same athleticism and everything I had when he first came here,” Wade said of Fizdale. “It’s tough. He came in and I’m a six-time All-Star already. So to sit there and show me a different way, to be able to explain it to me, to be able to give me the vision, it’s a talent he has.”

Turning the Knicks around will be a challenge and Wade feels Fizdale is ready for it.  “I think he is very aware — him and his wife — they understand where they want to go. A job like the Knicks, he wanted the challenge. It’s one of those jobs that not many people have gotten right. But if you get it right, it’s a special thing. And someone like him, he doesn’t run away from a challenge,” Wade explained.

“He’s been to the mountaintop a few times here [with the Heat], so that is what he’s looking for. He’s looking for that challenge and what better place than New York?”

Heat Notes: Wade, Haslem, Winslow, Weber

Speaking to reporters today at the Heat‘s Media Day, Dwyane Wade admitted that he was “90-10” on retiring after last season, and is now ready to enter his final year in the NBA, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. No matter how Miami’s season plays out, Wade is comfortable and at peace with his decision, noting that he’d like to remain “around the game” after retiring as a player.

Meanwhile, longtime Heat big man Udonis Haslem joked today that he’ll retire when Wade does, but later clarified that he has yet to make a decision on his own future, opting to take it year by year (Twitter link via Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald). Haslem and Wade both entered the NBA in 2003 and have been teammates for all but one season since then.

Here’s more out of South Beach:

  • Justise Winslow acknowledged today that it’s hard not to think about his contract situation with an October 15 deadline for a rookie scale extension looming (Twitter link via Ira Winderman). However, he said he’ll be fine with or without a new deal in place by that time. Winslow added that he has met with the Heat front office about an extension.
  • Briante Weber has spent most of his career in the G League, but he doesn’t feel like that’s an option as he tries to earn a roster spot with the Heat, relays Barry Jackson. “I’ve pretty much done everything I could in the G-League,” Weber said. “There’s nothing else for me to do down there. My game speaks for itself down there. I am here for the NBA.”
  • In another article for The Miami Herald, Barry Jackson rounded up all of Erik Spoelstra‘s notable comments from today’s Media Day presser, including the head coach’s thoughts on Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters, and Miami’s roster versatility.
  • Earlier today, we passed along word that James Johnson may not be healthy in time for the Heat’s regular season opener.

Southeast Notes: Dedmon, Anderson, Wade, Pope, Hornets

Center Dewayne Dedmon and swingman Justin Anderson will not be cleared for Hawks training camp, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. Dedmon suffered an avulsion fracture in his left ankle earlier this month and shed his walking boot last week. Dedmon, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, will be reevaluated next week, Vivlamore continues.  Anderson had surgery June 29th on his left leg due to recurring tibial stress syndrome. Anderson, who was acquired from the Sixers in a three-team deal in July, will be re-evaluated in two weeks, Vivlamore adds.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

Heat Officially Re-Sign Dwyane Wade

The Heat have officially re-signed Dwyane Wade to a new contract, the team confirmed today in a press release. Word broke over the weekend that Wade had decided to return to Miami for one more season.

“We are very delighted that Dwyane decided to return,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. “I believe that Dwyane can play a big part in us winning, that’s what he is all about. I’m glad he’s back.”

Wade, 36, has spent nearly all of his 15-year NBA career with the Heat since being selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2003 draft. While he had brief stints with the Bulls and Cavaliers in recent years, all of Wade’s best seasons have come in Miami, including his 12 All-Star appearances, eight All-NBA nods, and three NBA championships.

Having rejoined the Heat down the stretch last season, Wade showed he was still capable of contributing to the club, averaging 12.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 3.1 APG in 21 regular season contests. He also looked like his old self in Game 2 of the Heat’s first round series against Philadelphia, leading the club to its only playoff victory with 28 points in 26 minutes.

Wade’s new – and likely final – contract with the Heat will be worth the veteran’s minimum ($2,393,887) for one season. Because the deal will only count for about $1.51MM on Miami’s cap, the tax impact will be reasonably modest, increasing the team’s projected tax bill by just shy of $2.6MM.

With Wade officially back in the fold, the Heat have 14 players on fully guaranteed contracts and may leave the 15th spot on their roster open to start the season to avoid further increasing their tax bill.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade was “strongly considering” retirement last week before Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and a few other people were able to convince him to change his mind, according to an Associated Press report.

Wade, 36, held off on announcing a decision all summer before releasing a Twitter video on Sunday in which he revealed his intention to play one more season. There was personal and family business to sort out, Wade explained, as well as negotiations with the team to reach an agreement that was agreeable to both sides. He goes into detail in the video to lay out the lifestyle considerations that influenced his decision.

“Can I physically do it? Can I physically get out of bed every day to do this? Can I deal with every step hurting in the morning? Can I deal with the travel? Can I be away from my family? Is it selfish for me to want to continue to be away from my family?” Wade asked.“These things to you guys may seem small. But to me, they’re real. I feel like my family have put me first for so many years, for good reasons. But there comes a point in time when we’ve all got to think about someone else, especially the ones around you that have supported you, supported your dreams, supported your journey like my family have.”

Wade is the most popular and accomplished player in Heat history, leading the franchise in career points, assists, steals and games played. He spent 13 years in Miami before leaving for Chicago in 2016 because he was unhappy with what the Heat were offering him in free agency. Wade later moved on to Cleveland, then received a hero’s welcome from Heat fans when he was traded back to Miami in February. He became a valuable reserve, averaging 12.0 points per night in 21 games while helping the Heat reach the postseason.

Wade made it clear in his announcement that there won’t be another decision to make next summer. He plans to retire once this season is complete, saying, “I’ve given this game everything that I have, and I’m happy about that, and I’m going to give it for one last season, everything else I have left.”

There’s more Wade-related news to pass along:

  • Wade opted to accept a $2.4MM veteran’s minimum contract rather than demand any of Miami’s $5.3MM taxpayer mid-level exception. The financial implications of that decision are huge for a team already in luxury tax territory, tweets salary cap expert Albert Nahmad. With tax payments figured in, the total cost of re-signing Wade will be about $4MM. If he had demanded the full MLE, the price would have risen to between $14MM and $17MM. Wade will be the team’s 14th guaranteed contract, raising the total salary to about $130MM. That projects to a $9.7MM tax bill that could rise to $11.7MM or fall to $7.3MM depending on bonuses that the league considers likely [1,700 minutes plus making the playoffs for Kelly Olynyk] and unlikely [70 games played for Dion Waiters].
  • Wade’s return will make it harder for any of the Heat’s younger players to earn a roster spot, Nahmad adds (Twitter link). The 14 players with guaranteed contracts are considered virtual locks to make the club, while the 15th spot could be kept open. Duncan Robinson and Yante Maten enter camp on two-way contracts, but they will get competition to keep those deals from Briante Weber, Marcus Lee, Malik Newman and Jarnell Stokes, who all have Exhibit 10 contracts.
  • Wade wants to continue to have a significant role with the Heat in his final season, but he will be facing a different environment than he did at the end of last season, notes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. The Heat aren’t sure if Waiters will be physically ready when training camp starts next week, but he will return at some point after having ankle surgery last year. That creates a huge logjam at shooting guard, where Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Derrick Jones, Wayne Ellington will compete with Wade and Waiters for playing time.
  • Wade’s return could help put the Heat in contention for Jimmy Butler if the Timberwolves opt to trade him, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel, although he downplays the effect their friendship might have with Wade entering his final season. Winderman suggests an offer of Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and an unprotected 2019 first-rounder.

Dwyane Wade To Return For Final Season

7:59pm: The Heat have offered Wade the $2.4MM veteran’s minimum and Wade plans to accept it, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald reports.

7:07pm: Veteran guard Dwyane Wade has decided to return for one final season with the Heat. The 36-year-old announced and explained his decision through a video he released on Twitter.

Wade cites a desire to spend more time with his family as one of the driving forces behind the decision.

After starting his career with 13th consecutive seasons in Miami, Wade spent the 2016/17 campaign with his hometown Bulls, followed by a partial season with the Cavaliers and eventually a late season return to the Heat in 2017/18.

Wade averaged 12.0 points in 22.2 minutes per game after returning to the Heat last season and raised those to 16.6 and 25.4, respectively, in Miami’s five 2018 playoff games.

At this point, there’s still no indication what Wade’s final contract with the club will look like although it’s likely to fall within the $2.4MM veteran’s minimum and the $5.3MM taxpayer MLE.

In either scenario, the acquisition will have substantial luxury tax implications.