Wade told the Heat on Saturday he was opting out of the final two years of his contract, making him a free agent who may negotiate with any team – Miami included – on July 1.
It’s the same option that LeBron James exercised this week, and Wade’s decision came three days after he, James and Chris Bosh met at a posh Miami Beach hotel to discuss their futures.
Npw, all eyes are on Bosh, to see if he’ll opt out as well.
The decisions, while risky for the Heat because Bosh and James are no longer locked in to staying, could also become a big gift for Miami. The Heat owed Wade and James a combined $40.9 million for next season, and by opening up that massive amount of salary cap room, Miami will have tons of money to lure other free agents – as well as maneuver toward keeping its stars together.
Bosh is owed about $20.6 million for next season.
Also giving the Heat some salary room on Saturday was Udonis Haslem, who will not pick up his $4.6 million option. Haslem would prefer to stay with the Heat.
The thinking has long been that Bosh, James and Wade would all opt out and take slightly less money in the short-term, with the Heat giving them new long-term contracts in return. That would give Miami plenty of financial flexibility, which it could use to upgrade a team that has won the last four Eastern Conference titles and two of the last three NBA championships.
But Wade took a considerable amount of criticism this past season, first for missing 28 regular-season games – largely because of what the Heat called a maintenance program for his long-problematic knees – and then for struggling in the NBA Finals, which Miami lost in five games to the San Antonio Spurs.
Heat President Pat Riley remains sold on Wade’s value to a championship team, though acknowledges that at 32 and with plenty of injuries in his past, some continued evolution to his game – and perhaps his role – could be needed.
Wade was, without question, the most accomplished player in Heat history, leading the team in several categories on the all-time lists. Wade has spent his 11 NBA seasons with Miami, averaging 24.3 points per game.