Where Will Dwyane Wade Play Next Season?

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By: David Kay

Now that the Miami Heat have been eliminated from the NBA playoffs, let the Dwyane Wade sweepstakes officially begin!  Wade and LeBron James headline a free agent class that is the most hyped in the history of the league and the off-season wooing should be more entertaining than anything that occurred on the court this past season.

Several teams have been jockeying their salary cap situation for a couple years, waiting for the slim opportunity to land one of the superstars by offering the max contract.

So has Wade played his last game in a Miami Heat uniform?  If so, where will he be calling home next season?  Allow me to break down which teams have the best odds of luring the former Marquette All-American to their team.

Miami Heat (40% chance)

First things first, Wade has to opt out of his contract which he has the right to do.  There is a player option for the 2010-2011 season which is worth approximately $17.15 million, but you’ll see Adam Morrison resurrect his career before you see Wade pick up the final year of his deal.

With that said, the Heat can offer Wade more than any other team this summer; a six-year deal worth about $125 million.  On top of that, Miami would have enough cap space to sign another marquee free agent to a max deal, (Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer would be the most likely candidates) and still have $9-$10 million on another major player.  That nucleus of Free Agent A, Free Agent B, Michael Beasley, the 18th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft would be more appealing than any other team with enough cap space, other than maybe the Bulls, and would immediately give Wade and the Heat the chance to compete in the Eastern Conference.

Although, under this scenario Miami would have to fill out the rest of their roster with their three second round picks and by re-signing players like Udonis Haslem, Dorrell Wright, Carlos Arroyo, and/or Quentin Richardson, or sign free agents to minimum value contracts putting their depth in question.

And let’s be honest; why would he want to lose his throne as the King of South Beach?

Chicago Bulls (30% chance)
In the words of Chicago native Kanye West, “I’m coming home again.”  Having an opportunity to play in his back yard has to be a major selling point for the Bulls this off-season as Wade was born and raised right outside Chicago.  The maximum deal the Bulls or any other team besides the Heat can offer is a five-year contract worth around $95 million.

The Bulls are a playoff team without Wade, but could vault to one of the top teams in the East if he is added to their current core of young players like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, and James Johnson who are the only players under contract in Chicago for next season.  Add in the 17th pick in the draft and a remaining $9 million in cap space and the circumstances are awfully lucrative for Wade returning to the Chi.

New Jersey Nets (17% chance)
The Nets are a sleeper in the Dwyane Wade sweepstakes and not just because part-team owner Jay-z rapped on his latest album, “If Jesus payin’ LeBron, I’m payin’ Dwyane Wade.”

Riddle me this… let’s say the Nets land the first overall pick in the NBA Draft and take John Wall.  Devin Harris becomes expendable and New Jersey could deal him for a valuable asset.  The Nets give Wade the max deal and then have enough cap space to make a run at say, Carlos Boozer.  Suddenly you have a starting five of Wall, Wade, Terrence Williams, Boozer, and Brook Lopez with the Harris asset, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Yi, Kris Humphries, and whoever they take with the 27th pick in the draft on the bench.  That is easily a top-four team in the Eastern Conference.  Worth considering wouldn’t you say?

New York Knicks (12% chance)
Yes there is the allure of playing in the “Mecca of Basketball” and the worldwide exposure that would come with playing in the Big Apple.  But let’s be honest, Wade is one of most popular athletes alive and already makes a nice paycheck from his advertising and commercials with the likes of Jordan Brand, Gatorade, and T-Mobile.

From a basketball standpoint, the Knicks are building from the ground up as they don’t have a first round pick in the draft and only four players are under contract for next season; the worthless Eddy Curry, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Toney Douglas.  If Wade went to NYC, the Knicks would still have about $23 million left to bring in another max value player and a better supporting cast.  Still, I think the aforementioned franchises give Wade a better chance to win right away.

The Field (1% chance)
This group includes the Clippers, Kings, Timberwolves, and Wizards.  If Wade signs with one of those teams, I will be more shocked than if I ran into the smoke monster from Lost.  Oklahoma City appears as if they will just barely have enough cap space to sign a max player and would be an intriguing destination, but I don’t see OKC making any sort of serious run at Wade with Kevin Durant already in house.  Plus, I don’t think Wade would want to sign with the Thunder and possibly have to play second fiddle to Durant.

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    Speaking of Wade’s chances of going to the Bulls, remember in the preseason when I wrote about Noah making the leap? you can look at the new search function sponsored by Lijit and check it out- you said no…looks like you owe me, well we never established terms for any bet. But I just had to say I told you

  2. I think ur downplaying what exactly “the leap” is… bumping ur stats from 6.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game to 10.7 and 11 isn’t exactly “the leap” in my opinion…

  3. paulmbanks says

    I could define the leap, they went 0-10 w/o him down the stretch, he’s EASILY the team’s most valuable player after Rose

  4. Peter Christian says

    Joakim Noah made as much of a leap as Peter Griffin can inside the earth’s core. You can’t even fit a legal pad underneath that leap. Come on.

  5. paulmbanks says

    As colorful and clever as your response is, I stand behind my statement..look at all the 20-20 games Noah had this season. The only reason the Bulls made the playoffs this year (if you can call that a playoff appearance) is becuz they actually cared about defense this season (sometimes) and that starts and ends with Noah

  6. David K. says

    Again, I think Peter and I have a different definition of the “leap” than you do Paul…

  7. Andy Weise says

    Interesting piece… I actually do side with Paul though on Noah. He is now a major building block for the Bulls. I do think they can get creative though — imagine the bulls using Noah as the piece to get another team to take on Deng’s contract… therefore allowing them to sign Bosh and Wade…. it could happen.

  8. paulmbanks says

    And it would be awesome for the Chi if it did

  9. LeBron hating is like a new hobby for all the ESPN dudes, but who cares, their job is to HATE and the Heat’s job is to WIN!!

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