Miami has been at the center of the free agency storm for days now. LeBron James and Chris Bosh have been the lightning and thunder, making headlines for moves they’ve made, haven’t made, or been rumored to make.
It can all be a little overwhelming, equal parts nerve-wracking and deliriously fun. And so, in the midst of the downpour of noise and speculation, it’s even stranger that there’s hardly been any mention of Dwyane Wade.
Wade hasn’t been completely free of rumor mill. His decision to exercise the early termination option of his contract (thereby forgoing nearly $42 million) may have been the most shocking news of this offseason.
That step was largely considered to be the first toward reuniting Miami’s “Big 3,” presumably even giving Heat president Pat Riley a little more flexibility to add pieces that could keep the team in title contention for years.
Meanwhile, Miami’s other superstars are rumored to be considering returns to their respective hometowns. James, of course, is said to be weighing between the Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Wade? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
It could be justified that the lack of interest is due to his aging body and declining skills. He did, after all, miss 28 regular season games to rest his aching knees.
However, he still managed to set a career-high in field goal percentage (.545), and while averaging 19 points, 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. These are great numbers, even if far below what has been routinely expected out of the future Hall of Famer.
Much of Wade’s glaring absence from rumors is based on the presumption that Wade, as the 11-year face of the franchise, will remain and eventually retire as a member of the Miami Heat. He seems to be, unlike four years ago, considered immovable.
Maybe he can’t be moved but is possible he isn’t wanted? That seems unlikely, despite his age and questionable health.
The reality is that he was very productive throughout the regular season and, with the exception of the NBA Finals, in the playoffs.
Should this summer’s major players – James, Bosh and Carmelo Anthony – all wind up changing jerseys, couldn’t a team look to make a splash by adding Wade?
The Phoenix Suns are young, talented and potentially on the cusp of greatness. They were rumored to be interested in James or Anthony but have probably struck out.
Couldn’t their vaunted medical staff help prolong Wade’s career?
Should the Chicago Bulls miss out on Anthony (who will either be a Laker or remain a Knick, according to speculation), shouldn’t an attempt to lure local boy Wade be made? In the summer of 2010, Wade met with Bulls officials twice before re-signing with Miami.
If Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is at full strength, pairing with the still-dangerous Wade would make for one of the most dangerous backcourts in the NBA. And Wade’s championship experience might be just enough to lead Chicago back to the Finals after nearly a two-decade absence.
There’s no denying that Wade is no longer the explosive player he once was. His game has evolved, expanding his “old man game” to make up for that declining athleticism.
But it’s a good evolution. His mid-range jumper was virtually unstoppable for much of the postseason.
He has learned to play off the ball (as it was often in James’ hands) and his ability to lose a defender and find himself wide open along the baseline greatly benefited Miami. And while his defense was lacking at times, Wade’s 6’10” wingspan could still wreak havoc if he’s motivated, particularly as part of Chicago’s excellent defensive schemes.
It just appears that offering a contract to Wade would be a smart move. And for some teams that need to make a high-profile addition – and are likely to miss out on the marquee names – adding Wade might be the necessary piece to actually contend for a title.