If Dwyane Wade gets bought out by the rebuilding Chicago Bulls, his “most likely” landing spot is a reunion with the Miami Heat, per ESPN’s Jorge Sedano.
It’s okay to get a little sports horny over the mere possibility of the team’s most important player, a three-time NBA champion and destroyer of souls in his prime, returning to the franchise he was instrumental in building. There’s no question the ideal is Wade finishing his career in red and black.
However, the addition of Wade would — at best — marginally improve the Heat from a pure basketball perspective. That’s even if he’s fully on board with the Heat’s terms while signing for a $4.3 million exception or the league minimum, which are the only two resources the Heat has to sign players right now after topping off their cap space with the signings of Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk.
That’s not to say Wade isn’t one of the greatest players in league history or the most impactful athlete in Miami sports. Hell, Dwyane Wade is Miami sports. Flash, who turns 36 next January, was undoubtedly one of basketball’s most special players. The key word, though, is “was.”
While Ryan Yousefi and the Miami New Times will pander to the Wade diehards and write a list compiling five reasons why he should return to the Heat, I’m going to take the opposite stance, one that may not be the take you want to hear but it’s the one you need to hear.
This isn’t the Wade you fell for
Wade was one of the league’s elite attackers.
Wade was one of the league’s best perimeter defenders.
Wade was one of the greatest shot-blocking guards to ever grace the court.
Wade was a ruthless demolition man in the game’s most critical moments, taking games over with his tenacity on the defensive end and then creating the required offense on the other side to bury his opponent.
Today, Wade still flashes these abilities but, as undefeated father time has proven, his game isn’t what it once was. His defense is iffy and that’s being generous. Though this was more effort-based, the following was a playoff game:
Wade out here playing defense like me at the church pic.twitter.com/gTlWYXjffr
— negan (@cptrees) April 27, 2017
His shooting hasn’t efficiently expanded to three-point range — despite the early season explosion in Chicago — in a league where having even two non-shooters in the lineup at any given time can handicap an offense. His True Shooting Percentage dropped to .508 last season in Chicago, marking the worst figure of his career.
Wade’s Total Points Added of 35.6, a good advanced stat measuring how a player affects winning on both ends, shows a slight positive impact in Chicago last season. That figure would’ve ranked fourth on the Heat, behind Dragic (131.7), James Johnson (111.7), and Tyler Johnson (60.48).
Wade has shown no indication he’d accept the Manu role
The only way I see Wade actually helping this team basketball wise at this stage is if he’s willing to accept a role that he probably thinks is beneath him, one that involves A LOT fewer minutes, scoring, and dribbling while adding in more defending, cutting, and passing.
Knowing full well this team isn’t a true contender, would Wade be okay with 15 to 20 minutes off the bench like Manu Ginobli? Would this eight-time All-NBA player be fine playing behind Dion Waiters? Would the 12-time All Star with a super ego be down to shoot less and cut more? I’m skeptical.
He had the opportunity to do it a year ago. Maybe he’s changed his mindset after getting his $50 million from Chicago but I don’t see it.
Wade is a messy basketball fit with this roster
Injecting Wade’s game into Miami’s current roster and style is like smothering a finely balanced pizza with an extra cup of unneeded tomato sauce, only that sauce’s expiration date was a week ago and it’s borderline. All pizzas (teams) need sauce (scorers) but too much sauce, especially if the quality isn’t what it once was, can destroy a pizza.
Miami already has enough sauce in playmakers like Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, and James Johnson. Adding a ball-dominant player like Wade and the Heat’s free-flowing drive-and-kick offense that evolved into something beautiful last season could get too messy.
We haven’t even mentioned the spacing issues. Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow are big parts of this team but neither has shown the ability to shoot the long ball consistently. This is likely fine because they can stagger lineups appropriately where there are multiple shooters on the court at all times but adding Wade makes this more problematic. You also have to consider JJ’s shooting may regress this year.
Wade’s presence could impede the development of younger players
There’s only one ball, folks, and sliding in an extremely high-usage player like Wade will take away playmaking opportunities from Dragic, Waiters, Winslow, and both Johnsons.
The Heat especially needs to see what they have in a healthy Winslow, who displayed some intriguing on-ball possibilities as a creator in his shortened second season, as Miami Heat Beat’s Nekias Duncan outlined so elegantly. All anyone wants to talk about with Winslow is his inefficient shooting but his skillset could translate to a poor man’s Draymond Green down the line in the mold of a defensive menace, point forward type.
There’s no question Wade’s presence would slice into Winslow’s development. It’d also be hard for the team’s youth not to instinctively defer to the future Hall of Famer, which probably wouldn’t be the best for the team’s growth.
This team deserves a chance
Last year’s Heat went 30-11 to close the season and while I don’t think they’re capable of winning 60 games next season — though the East is so freaking terrible right now who really knows — they can flirt with 50 wins.
We know the Waiters-Dragic tandem works well but the same cannot be said after adding Wade into the mixing bowl. The Heat bet big on the second half of last season with their re-signings in Free Agency and Wade’s addition would certainly undermine that.
However, there is one theoretical where I’d be completely onboard with Wade’s return. It has to do with bananas—and four of em’.
Could Wade’s return lay the groundwork for the additions of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul the following summer? If the answer is yes or even a maybe, shred this post.
A week ago, Sedano actually hinted at this possibility, going as far as saying he thinks Pat Riley is thinking bananas.
A Wade reunion in Miami would feel nice for nostalgic reasons but basketball wise he’s simply not a clean fit. He’s going to be remembered as a Heat Lifer regardless and will have his jersey raised and statue built at American Airlines Arena.
But if Banana Boat South Beach is a real possibility, and Wade’s presence is enough to tug said raft to Biscayne Bay, well, that’s an entirely different circumstance and one that’d have Pat Riley salivating.