Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade decided to opt out of his $16.1 million player option for the 2015-16 NBA season with the Miami Heat on June 29. Wade is now officially an unrestricted free agent beginning July 1.
Dwyane Wade has opted out of his player option for the 2015-16 NBA season.
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ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported the news on June 29. Wade, whose player option for 2015-16 is worth $16.1 million, will become a free agent on July 1.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman obtained a statement from Wade's spokesperson at 5 p.m. on June 29 which reads, "Dwyane Wade has elected not to opt in to extend his one-year contract with the Miami Heat and will become a free agent...
"There will be no further comments from Mr. Wade or his representatives at this time."
Dwyane Wade will not pick up his player option for next year & instead become a free agent, source tells ESPN— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 29, 2015
According to The Miami Herald's Joseph Goodman, the city of Miami "had been preparing itself for that decision for weeks."
Wade and the Heat reached a stalemate in their contract negotiations heading into the June 29 deadline for opting out of his player option or not, per Shelburne.
The ESPN update says Wade is seeking a contract that averages $16 million per season. Wade has accepted pay cuts amounting to $27 million since he turned pro in 2003 and wants some form of compensation in his new deal.
On the other hand, Goodman reported on Monday that Wade is open to a three-year, $60 million deal.
By retaining Wade's "Bird Rights," the Heat are the only team which can dangle a five-year contract to him. On the other hand, other teams can only offer a four-year deal, per Winderman.
Wade stated after the 2014-15 NBA season he wants to stay with the Heat. He was even spotted wearing a Heat cap at his fantasy camp recently. However, with his desire to be paid top dollar, Miami needs to make a hard decision, per ESPN.
However, in the weeks leading to Wade forgoing his player option, Goodman says he had been unappy about his situation in Miami.
Shelburne stresses the Heat would have wanted Wade to opt in and then work on a new contract following the 2015-16 NBA season. That way, Miami would benefit from more salary-cap flexibility next offseason.
When that time comes, big-name players such as Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant will be free agents, per ESPN.
Heat president Pat Riley does not want Wade to leave the team, especially after four-time NBA MVP LeBron James returned for a second tour of duty with the Cleveland Cavaliers last year. However, Riley is also adamant about maintaining salary-cap flexibility moving forward, per Shelburne.
Shelburne also reiterates Wade's age (33) and the fact he has missed 48 games combined the past two seasons were two important factors in sizing up his value to Miami.
Now that Wade is a free agent, two teams which could bid for his services include the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks, per The Miami Herald. A return to Milwaukee would be refreshing for Wade, who attended Marquette University.
Goodman rules out Wade joining the Los Angeles Clippers, who signed enigmatic shooting guard Lance Stephenson several weeks ago.
The Clippers' crosstown rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, could be in the hunt for Wade despite drafting coveted point guard D'Angelo Russell out of Ohio State second overall in the 2015 NBA draft last week, per The Miami Herald.
Wade's backcourt mate for the second half of last season, Goran Dragic, also opted out of his own player option and is now a free agent. If Miami re-signs Dragic and Wade signs somewhere else, the team has only the $5.5 million full mid-level exception or the $3.4 million taxpayer mid-level exception to utilize in order to find a replacement for the latter player, per Winderman.
The Heat can also choose to trade several players to create more cap space, per The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
On the same day Wade opted out, Heat forward Luol Deng opted into his $10.2 million player option for 2015-16. Deng will stay in Miami, per Winderman.
"He thinks their team is going to be terrific, really terrific," Deng's agent, Herb Rudoy, told Winderman on Monday. "It's the perfect time to stay one more year."
Wade has averaged 24.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 781 career regular-season games for the Miami Heat, per ESPN stats.
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