Heading into the 2015-2016 NBA season, I thought that the 2016 offseason was going to be the summer where the scope of the NBA would be changed for years to come. LeBron James may decide to leave the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat if he were to deliver “The Land” a championship. DeMar DeRozan might be inclined to leave Toronto for the bright lights of Los Angeles, a city where he calls home. Heck, Kevin Durant could evaluate his on-court chemistry with Russell Westbrook and decide that he could never win a championship with the Thunder. After the regular season and postseason unfolded, however, it seems like none of these drastic changes will ever come to fruition. The one player left who could potentially alter the narrative of the 2016-2017 season is Dwyane Wade, shooting guard for the Miami Heat. Wade is the greatest player in Miami Heat history due to his consistent play over the course of 13 seasons and his deliverance of three championships to the franchise. Wade is unquestionably one of the top five shooting guards of all time, and his health resurgence last season will make him a hot commodity for many teams this free agency. If the Heat’s all-time leading scorer were to leave Wade County and the luxurious life of South Beach, a line of teams will surely be waiting to sign the 34 year-old unrestricted free agent. The top four teams that have a chance of having Wade on their roster next year include the Dallas Mavericks, the San Antonio Spurs, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Miami Heat.
4. Dallas Mavericks
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Realistically, Dwyane Wade has three options when evaluating where he will finish his career. A fourth name that has been mentioned from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is the Dallas Mavericks. The Dallas Mavericks are always a team to be considered because they have an excellent coach in Rick Carlisle, an owner in Mark Cuban who has proven that he will dish out big dollars for championships, and they are always in the playoffs despite losing key players. I cannot really see the Mavericks being in the Wade sweepstakes for a couple of reasons. First off, Dwyane Wade would only consider leaving Miami if he were to get a bigger contract somewhere else. The Mavericks have around 31 million dollars in cap space, but this number will slim down significantly once Dirk Nowitzki resigns and other players are added to fill the 15 roster spots. Unless Dirk decides to take nearly half as much as he is worth to the franchise, Wade won’t be able to maximize his profits and will probably be losing money compared to a deal Miami would give him. The second reason why Dallas is out of contention for Wade is due to the dominance of the Western Conference. Why would Flash leave a Heat team that came within one game of the Eastern Conference Finals for a team that only won one game in the first round last postseason? At best, Wade on the Mavericks would make them a fourth seed and a loss in the second round as San Antonio, Golden State, and Oklahoma City will prove to be impossible foes to defeat. It is always great that Dallas seems to put themselves in the mix for marque free agents, but this attempt will most definitely be unachievable.
3. San Antonio Spurs
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A name that Brian Windhorst also mentioned that I never considered was the San Antonio Spurs. As an NBA fan, it would be intriguing to see whether Dwyane Wade could join the senior center organization and beat energetic teams like Golden State or Oklahoma City. If the Spurs could possibly trade Danny Green and free up an additional 10 million dollars in cap space, they would be in prime position to lure Wade away from the Heat. The perennial all-star, who has never been the highest paid player on his own team, will have the opportunity to win multiple championships in his final years as a professional basketball player. Dwyane Wade is a high-IQ basketball player, and his ego is level enough for him to potentially be a third option with San Antonio. The Spurs play a slow, sophisticated pace of basketball that will allow Wade to start a majority of games without dealing with fatigue issues. Gregg Popovich’s ability to utilize his players effectively and efficiently while playing them under 30 minutes a game will also be an appealing opportunity for Wade to extend his career. Unfortunately, due to reasons that run deeper than basketball, San Antonio is behind two other teams when it comes to sign Dwyane Wade.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
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Going to the Cleveland Cavaliers will definitely diminish the value of Wade’s championships that he may win during his tenure there. Some NBA pundits and critics may classify such a high-profile move as chasing championships, but this transition would not be as devastating as when LeBron took his talents to South Beach. When LeBron James left Cleveland in 2010, he had not fulfilled the Cavaliers quest for a championship since he was drafted in 2003, and he left with the sole desire of winning his first ring. In this scenario with Wade, he has already won three championships while staying through the toughest of times, and his decision to leave may be fueled by the lack of respect he feels the Heat are giving him. With max contracts dished out to Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragić, and Chris Bosh in the past three offseasons, it seems like Dwyane was never a high priority for Pat Riley and the Heat organization when it comes to long-term contract talks. If Wade were to leave for the reigning NBA champions, an argument could also be made that he would make them even better and assure a couple of more championships in the future. Although Cleveland won the chip this year, they faced a Warriors team that was without Draymond Green in Game 5 and without Andrew Bogut for the final two games of the NBA Finals. A combination of Dwyane Wade, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, and Tristan Thompson would provide a lethal amount of clutch-time scoring, rebounding capabilities, and proficient passing. Wade probably had Cleveland on his mind last offseason, and it would not surprise anybody if were to join forces with the King in The Land.
1. Miami Heat
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I can give the greatest arguments for every NBA team to sway Dwyane Wade away from the team that drafted him, but I believe that he will ultimately stay in Wade County. Pat Riley is a proven basketball winner, whether it was his five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers as a player and a coach, or his three championships with the Miami Heat as a coach and president. He has undoubtedly completed his promises to the players who have played for him, and the Heat will always be a title contender with him at the helm. There is also something to be said about loyalty in the NBA, which is an advantage for Miami that no other franchise has with Wade. After seeing Kobe Bryant finish his career in L.A. after 20 seasons, Tim Duncan going 19 years strong with San Antonio, and even LeBron going back to his hometown, it is easy to understand how important it would be for Wade to finish his career with the only team that he has ever played for. The Heat had some high and low points throughout Wade’s tenure, but this tandem always finds a way to work things out and win basketball games. With a fully healthy Chris Bosh next year, the Miami Heat could legitimately threaten the Cavaliers for a place in the Finals and this possibility should be enough to convince Wade to return back to the Heat.
Cap Space and other information is courtesy of Basketball Reference
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