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Remember in 2010 when all eyes were on LeBron James during that huge summer of that ridiculous free-agent class? He literally was the sole piece that controlled the market. Wherever he went, that would make everything else fall like dominoes into perfect place.
Well, it’s time to fast forward to 2014, and Dwyane Wade is now that man who controls the fate of many players in the NBA.
Wade is scheduled to make $20,048,000 during the 2014-15 season, according to HoopsHype.com. Ouch. This is a major problem in Miami, and Pat Riley is now on the clock for the first time since the “Big Three” came together.
Despite the NBA operating with a soft-cap, having James, Chris Bosh and Wade all making over $21 million next season will incredibly hinder the opportunity to round out of the rest of this roster. If Wade was still that super star player he was a year ago, then sure, no problem. But he is not that guy anymore.
Wade played in only 54 games this season while averaging 19 points, according to basketball-reference.com. Nineteen points is surely acceptable and 54 games is also acceptable considering their plan to rest him during the regular season and have him ready for the playoffs. It worked last season. What’s not acceptable though is paying a broken-down shot player that type of money.
Wade looks finished.
Despite only playing 54 games, he could not have been worse in the playoffs. He has no lift, no burst and his always bringing a nagging injury into the game. James and Pat Riley did not count on this (Wade’s knees being shot at the far too soon age of 32).
The saving grace for Miami is that James, Bosh and Wade all have opt-out clauses in their contracts this off-season. This means that they can all opt-out and take a more “team-friendly” deal that will allow Riley some wiggle room. This brings up the major possibility of Carmelo Anthony taking his talents to south beach.
Let’s ask the big question though: will Wade do this? There is no other team that will offer Wade the type of money he is schedule to make next year ($21 million). So why would Wade opt-out of his deal if it guarantees him that much undeserved (because of recent play) money?
There many dynamics at play here. Wade is a Miami guy as the city loves him. He is also great friends with James. Do James and Riley have to convince him? Or is Wade actually willing to take the pay-cut? Only time will tell. If Wade does the pay-cut, then Miami’s future still looks bright. Possibilities also loom that James and Bosh can also take pay-cuts, meaning even more money to spend on the rest of the team.
If Wade decides to not take the pay cut, then here’s where it gets fun folks.
If this happens, I would argue that James is as good as gone. He understands the importance of this happening for the team’s chances to win in the future. The Cleveland Cavaliers look mighty attractive right now with Kyrie Irving and the number-one overall pick in the upcoming draft.
If Wade does not opt-out, it could create a domino effect that has James leaving the city, and therefore the city starting to turn on Wade. He would become “the guy” that chased one of the greatest player in NBA history from their franchise.
It is an interesting situation with many possibilities. Yes it is purely business, but friendships and legacies are at stake here. All eyes are on you, Wade.
image courtesy of INFphoto.com