Wade agrees to two-year deal with Heat; Haslem signs
Published on -7/16/2014, 10:11 AM
(MCT) -- The emotional conclusion of the Miami Heat's free agency saga came to a defiant end Tuesday with Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem agreeing to deals with the only NBA team they've ever played for.
Wade came to terms with the Heat and then sent out a message on Twitter calling Miami "home." The Heat's starting shooting guard left $42 million on the table in June when he opted out of the last two years on his previous contract. His new two-year deal reportedly is for $34 million.
"Home Is Where The Heart Is," Wade wrote. "My Home, My City, My House...(hashtag)HeatLifer."
According to reports, Haslem agreed to a two-year deal worth $5.6 million, using the Heat's space exception.
Home and happiness and loyalty have been themes throughout the week for Wade, the Heat and LeBron James, who on Friday called the pull of home more powerful than the tug of what he had helped build in Miami. James, Wade and Chris Bosh beat a path to the NBA Finals for four straight years and won two of the past three NBA championships.
Now, the next time they're on the court together, it will be as opponents. Wade and Bosh give the Heat a strong core entering next season while James will be the leader of a young but talented roster in Cleveland.
"Dwyane has been the franchise cornerstone for this team since the day he arrived 11 years ago," Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. "He has shown his commitment to the Heat many times over the course of his career and has always been willing to sacrifice in order to help build this team into a champion. This time is no different.
"I am ecstatic to have him back in the fold and I am confident that Dwyane, as always, will be leading this team as we look to contend for NBA Championships."
Wade, one of the top scorers in the league when he's fully healthy, was the main reason James left Cleveland for Miami in 2010, but the Heat's co-captain couldn't keep James with the Heat after the team lost to the Spurs in quick order in the 2014 NBA Finals.
The Spurs defeated the Heat 4-1 in the best-of-7 series and Wade averaged 15.2 points in 34 minutes per game.
"You can criticize him on his performance, but I can guarantee you this: he isn't a 'what have you done for me lately' guy or a 'Johnny Do Nothing,' " Riley said of Wade before the start of free agency. "He's not that. That's an insult. That's an insult for a guy that since 2003 has made magic for us."
Wade has been the Heat's ultimate engineer since being drafted fifth overall in 2003 behind James, Darko Milicic, Carmelo Anthony and Bosh. First, Wade made the Heat instantly competitive as a rookie sensation. He then teamed up with Shaquille O'Neal to bring the Heat and Miami its first NBA title. The second act of his career brought James and Bosh into the fold and landed Miami right smack in the middle of basketball nirvana.
Wade, Riley and owner Micky Arison have done nothing short of turning Miami into one of the top five basketball towns in the country. James is gone, but the Heat remains and isn't sliding into irrelevancy anytime soon.
"As a matter of fact, from 2003 on, our world in South Florida in basketball has changed," Riley said. "You think Shaquille would have come to Miami if Dwyane wasn't here. No. We would not have had that ... So, for the last 10 years, this has been a Dwyane Wade-driven thing."
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Wade brought James to South Florida, and, perhaps through no fault of his own, drove James home in the end. Wade's star will shine brightly in Miami forever. He has played for only one team and will likely only play for one team his entire career. That's something James will never have, but it's clear that James would like to establish something of his own.
"He's a champion," Riley said of Wade. "He's a world champion, and he's a Miami Heat for life. He's an icon. He's one of the great players in the world."
Wade is a champion three times over _ and likes to refer to himself as "Three" on Twitter to point that out _ but history should not forget that Wade could actually be a four-time champion already had James not collapsed it the 2011 Finals. Considering James' mental meltdown against the Dallas Mavericks, it's ironic then that Wade has been so heavily scrutinized recently for his dip in performance.
With the third act of his career now beginning, there already are signs that Wade has started adapting himself in ways that could smooth his transition from superstar in his prime to productive veteran. Wade apparently has started a paleo diet this summer on the advice of Ray Allen and has also been working on his jumper.
Wade has put up amazingly efficient numbers in each of the last two seasons and a more consistent jump shot would only make him more effective.
"Like every single minute in every single game, he's examined more than anybody else ... and so he had a couple bad games, OK, in the Finals," Riley said. "Now does he have to reinvent himself a little bit. Sure."
Motivation to fuel that reinvention certainly will not be in short supply now.