Dwyane Wade's return to Miami, so far, has gone exactly as planned. The greatest player in the history of the Heat franchise has been back for only a few weeks and a handful of games, but the results in those eight games have been pretty impressive: 13.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 23 minutes a game off the bench. He sent last night's game against the Washington Wizards into overtime with a three-point play and has already sunk a memorable game-winning shot against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Not a bad half-month for a role player who just happens to have the same name as a guy who carried the franchise on his back for more than a decade. Also, it's a decent return for the heavily protected, never-going-to-actually-be-paid 2024 second-round pick the Heat sent Cleveland in return for Wade.
His return to Dade County might be short-lived, though: He's recently said there are no guarantees he won't hang up his sneakers and retire this offseason. But that would be a massive mistake.
Wade should play at least one more season with the Heat. Here's why.
1. The Heat will still very much need Wade in 2018-19. Help is not on the way. This is the Miami Heat's roster, barring some next-level Pat Riley wheeling-and-dealing this summer, so the Heat will definitely still be a team looking for the role Wade has been asked to play in his first eight games since returning to Miami.
The Heat will likely still need Wade's leadership, clutch-moment spot duty, and off-the-bench minutes next season, so it makes sense for him to return if he still wants to play. Miami doesn't exactly have young players beating down the door to see Wade move on, either.
2. Heat fans deserve to give Wade a full-season sendoff. Wade recently scoffed at the thought of having a Kobe Bryant-like farewell tour, but his sendoff doesn't have to include gifts and tribute videos in every city. It can be much humbler. Heat fans and Wade himself deserve more than just 20-some games to say goodbye to each other.
It would make much more sense if Wade came back and declared before next season that it would be his last. Then Heat fans would get a proper chance to bid farewell to the greatest player in South Florida sports history. Seeing Wade come home for these few games after a quick playoff exit, even when he still has so much left in the tank, wouldn't seem right.
3. Wade, like Udonis Haslem, could recoup all the money he "sacrificed" over the years in Miami. It's no secret that part of the reason Wade and the Heat broke up two seasons ago was that he thought the team owed him a bit of backpay for all the times he took a hit to help the team fit in other players such as Chris Bosh and LeBron James. Haslem did the same thing years ago when he turned down more money from the Denver Nuggets to stay in Miami during the Big Three era.
Haslem has now made that money back in Miami by having his career extended three seasons longer than it might have lasted if he didn't have a spot reserved on the Heat bench. Wade could do the same if he so desired. If he's in no rush to live out the retirement life and, like UD, still enjoys being around the team even if it means not playing very often, Wade could fill a much-needed role on the bench and, in return, receive about $10 million in retirement funds.
Hey, money is money. There are worse things to do in three years than collect a bunch of huge paychecks for being Miami Heat ambassador and de facto bench coach.
2. There is still obviously some basketball left in Wade's tank. Wade does not look like a player holding on for dear life in the NBA. Compared to his former scoring champion self, sure, he's lost a few steps, but in a vacuum, Wade is more than just a serviceable player. He's a player whom NBA championship teams would love to have on their roster. Just look at the play he made last night to send the game into overtime in Washington.
If Wade is sick of the grind, that's one thing. But if his retirement decision is based on whether he can still play the game, we've already seen he has plenty of
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1. One. More. Run. The Miami Heat doesn't rebuild. That much has been clear as the team transitioned from the Big Three era to the current incarnation. Thing is, this Heat team is obviously just a stepping stone to a greater plan Riley has in mind. That plan, for another serious championship run, will likely be executed in the next two to three years.
Wade could be a part of not only the team on the floor but also the recruitment process. Winning another title in Miami with Wade on the roster would be the story of the century in this town and the glorious walk-into-the-sunset moment every athlete envisions. Wade should stick around — even if it means playing as infrequently as Haslem has played in recent years — just to be a part of something that might happen.
Collect the extra money, give fans a few extra moments, and leave open the chance of a perfect