By this spring, it was obvious Dwyane Wade regretted his choice to leave the Miami Heat for the Chicago Bulls. In fact, earlier this month it was already worth speculating about where Wade might jump to next after the Bulls inevitably buy him out. Sure, the Heat were a possible destination, but at the time that seemed highly unlikely.
But hold on: Wade returning to Miami is starting to sound like a better and better idea. Heat shooting guard Dion Waiters agrees, too. The idea of playing with Wade sounds so good to Waiters, in fact, that he's recently taken to social media to recruit Wade back to Miami.
Waiters is right. Here's why Dwyane Wade so badly belongs back in a Miami Heat uniform.
1. Signing Wade would cost the Heat next to nothing.
Dwyane Wade would basically be free for the Heat — well, in terms of the salary cap at least. He wouldn't actually be free. That would probably be against NBA rules. The Miami Heat have already used up all their salary cap space. They emptied the bank account, maxed out their credit cards, and broke open the piggy bank to bring back last season's 41-41 team. What they do have left is a $4 million midlevel exemption slot Pat Riley recently said the team would probably hold on to for a rainy day later this season. Signing Dwyane Wade when he shakes free from Chicago could be that day.
Most teams in the playoff hunt pick up a veteran midseason; why can't the Heat pick up Wade? If he was anyone else with his resume, the
2. Wade is 25 percent of the "Banana Boat" dream.
Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and LeBron James could all be free agents next season. Is it likely they all choose to play in the same city? Not even close. Is it an impossibility? Miami Heat fans should be the first to tell you to never rule anything out.
Imagine a scenario where this coming season's Heat team is a disappointment and Riley wants to swing for the fences for the following year. As we've seen in the past, having Wade and his relationships on your side of the recruiting table is a major key. Wade might just be inclined to recruit his friends down to Miami where they could nuke the entire roster and start from scratch with what they get back in trades.
3. Wade would fit in much better on the current version of the Miami Heat.
There has been a lot of talk about Wade "not fitting in" with this Heat roster and being a "progress stopper" for younger players, but that's short-sighted and overly negative. Wade wouldn't be returning to Miami to be the main piece; he would be coming back as another piece to the puzzle for a franchise he obviously never stopped loving. Wade has proven before that he's fully capable of putting his ego aside. If Heat fans don't remember that, that's on them.
Wade also wouldn't be asked to play big minutes on this Heat team, and whether or not he is able to play in back-to-back sets wouldn't be a life-or-death question anymore. He'd have time to rest. He'd be able to pick his spots. Wade could also give the Heat spurts of his best instead of pacing himself like he has obviously done the last few years with both the Heat and Bulls, knowing he would likely need to play 30 minutes.
4. The Heat could use Wade's leadership on and off the court.
The Heat have an interesting roster filled with "some dogs," in Waiters' words, but they lack veteran leadership. Udonis Haslem is expected to return to Miami for what could be his final season, but he rarely takes the floor. Wade would provide veteran leadership on the court that would be badly needed if the Heat made the playoffs. As Heat fans know, the playoffs are a different animal, and just because you succeed in the regular season doesn't mean you will be able to replicate the process four of seven times against the same team.
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Wade would be one of the few players on the Heat's roster who has been through some epic battles with real big-boy stakes on the line. That alone would be worth his salary.
5. Wade would face much less pressure in Miami.
For Wade, a return to Miami would be the easiest of paths. If he were to sign with a team like Cleveland, he would be expected to be a major piece of a championship team. Fans who don't have a history with him would trash him the moment he sat out a game or two to rest his knees. Hell, Bulls fans did that last season and that team sucked. In Miami, nothing grand would be expected.
Miamians know what to expect from Wade in 2017. We would appreciate his style of play and leadership, and not expect him to move mountains just based on his name. If Wade wants a comfortable end to his career in the place that always loved him and treated him right, Miami is where he belongs.