The Lakers handed Kobe Bryant a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension without negotiation in 2013.
When Dwyane Wade sought a two-year, $50 million deal from the Heat this summer — a far smaller burden against a dramatically higher salary cap — they balked.
So, before leaving Miami for the Bulls, Wade went on vacation and spoke with LeBron James and Chris Paul about his predicament.
Wade, via ESPN:
They was in disbelief that I didn’t have any deal that I wanted. Bron always said when we was in Miami, he always said, “D-Wade is going to be like Kobe. He’s going to get that Kobe deal.” So I think their disbelief was, “Why are you even a free agent? You shouldn’t even be.”
Read between the lines. Wade is pulling the “I’m not saying, but I heard…” bit. He wants it out there that the Heat didn’t treat him as well as the Lakers treated Kobe. Wade just doesn’t want to say something that polarizing himself.
But Wade’s sentiment is understandable. Unlike Kobe, Wade took discounts for years to help Miami contend. (And to Pat Riley’s credit, he gave Wade what he wanted with championship-caliber rosters.) Wade just never got the payday at the end of the tunnel.
The Heat’s stance is also understandable. Kobe’s extension held back the Lakers for a couple years. They still defend the move, but other teams learned a lesson in how not to operate. Miami also didn’t have enough cap room to offer Wade $50 million — at least not after re-signing Hassan Whiteside. The Heat would’ve had to dump Josh McRoberts, which would’ve likely required surrendering a positive asset.
So, while it’s strange to see Wade in Chicago, this had been building for a while. LeBron might have been surprised, but I doubt he was completely shocked. He admonished Miami’s spending habits before leaving for Cleveland.
For better or worse, the Heat aren’t the Lakers.