The future of Dwayne Wade with the Miami Heat could be up in the air, fueling speculation that he could take his talents to NBA teams in New York or Los Angeles.
According to Barry Jackson of Miami Herald, negotiations between the Heat and Wade have not come close to "finding a middle ground" in terms of compensation. Although he wants to stay in Miami, associates close to Wade indicated that he could go either to the New York Knicks or the Los Angeles Lakers, given his friendly relationships with Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant respectively.
"If Wade and the Heat compromise, a salary in the $15 million range in both 2016-17 and 2017-18 would be the logical end point," Jackson wrote. "That would be less than what Wade wants but more than the Heat wants to give him those seasons, according to an associate briefed on the discussions."
However, Jackson noted that the Heat are also paying big money to Chris Bosh and Goran Dragic, leaving them unable to afford top free agent small forwards in 2016 such as Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green. In addition, Hassan Whiteside could end up costing more for Miami.
"Regardless of what Miami pays Wade, the odds are against the Heat being able to make a real significant move in 2016 free agency if Bosh, Dragic and Whiteside are all earning big money," Jackson said. "In determining what to pay Wade, the variable Miami can't predict is whether Whiteside will do enough next season to earn something close to a max contract."
Jackson added that Miami is not permitted to sign Whiteside until July 2016. That's because the Heat "must save the cap space to fit Whiteside under the $89 million without surpassing it to sign him."
Ryan Yousefi of Miami New Times argued that the Heat has much more control over the outcome with Wade. He also noted that Heat fans would have to choose either loyalty or success going forward.
"The choice is clear," Yousefi wrote. "The Heat should meet Wade's demands even if it hurts the teams' chances of winning for the next three years."
Yousefi added that Heat fans should "take a step back and practice what they preach." He referred to what happened between Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins of the NFL back in 1999 as an example.
"Marino's body began to break down much like Wade's has in the past few years," Yousefi wrote. "Fans began to favor possible positive future outcomes without Marino over what he had meant to the franchise during the prior decade. Not surprisingly, many took the 'What have you done for me lately?' attitude toward Marino, pointing out it wasn't all that much."
Yousefi hoped that Heat fans would "show some maturity" towards Wade, given that players like him "come around once or twice in a lifetime."
"The Heat preaches that its organization is a family and that its fans should be 'Heat lifers,' but when success comes at the expense of being cutthroat toward family members, were you really ever a family in the first place?" Yousefi wrote. "Right now, the Heat and their fans should be most accurately judged not during the best of times, but during the tough, character-challenging times."
Yousefi hoped that the Heat would consider Wade's contributions and loyalty to the team as they negotiate their contract with him.
"Pat Riley needs to value Wade's sacrifices, commitment, and loyalty to the city of Miami since 2003 more than he values anything else that could possibly happen over the next three seasons on the court," Yousefi concluded. "If it means choosing winning fewer games with Dwyane Wade than winning more without him, the Heat should be OK with the former."