Report: Heat and Dwyane Wade far apart in contract negotiations, which could lead to his departure

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Over the course of a Hall of Fame career, Dwyane Wade has become synonymous with the Miami Heat. He’s made 11 All-Star teams and won three titles with the franchise, winning Finals MVP in 2006. And in doing all of this for the team that drafted him, he’s become one of only a small handful of superstars of his generation who have been tied to only one franchise their entire career. That short list includes Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks, Tim Duncan and the Spurs, and…well…that’s basically it.

Now, there are rumblings that the 12-year relationship between Wade and the Heat could come to an end if they can’t agree on a new contract this summer.

From Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

The Heat and Dwyane Wade have been discussing potential resolutions of his contract situation and there’s a significant difference in what both parties believe he should be paid for the next three seasons, according to multiple sources.

Though Wade prefers to stay with the Heat, where he has spent his entire 12-year career, he is now open to considering other teams this summer if the Heat does not raise its offer, according to three sources with direct knowledge.

You can see both sides in this dispute. Wade’s health has been a question mark for several years. He’s generally been fantastic when he’s played, even with his knee problems, but he missed 20 games this season and 28 in 2013-14. The Heat, understandably, don’t want to pay him like a max-level superstar at age 33 if they can’t count on him to play close to a full season — in other words, they don’t want to find themselves in a situation like the Lakers have with Kobe Bryant, where his enormous contract is essentially paying him for what he’s done in the past, far beyond him being worth that kind of money today.

On the other side, Wade has been the face of the franchise for 12 years. Even when he agreed to take a backseat to LeBron James during the Big Three era, he was always the more popular player locally. He’s been a fixture in the community in Miami for his entire NBA career. He’s an icon there. And there’s an element of feeling like he’s sacrificed enough for the good of the team over his career. Wade has taken a pay cut on two consecutive contracts: first in 2010, in order to create the cap space to bring in James and Chris Bosh, and again last summer after James left to go back to Cleveland. The Heat maxed out Bosh to prevent him from leaving for Houston in free agency, and Wade signed a two-year, $31 million contract with a player option for 2015-16.

This summer, the Heat want to retain the same flexibility. Goran Dragic is due for a new contract, and he’s made it clear that he wants nothing less than the five-year, $100 million max deal the Heat can offer him. Considering Miami gave up two first-round picks to land him at the trade deadline, they have a high level of motivation to keep him. Going forward, Hassan Whiteside has one year left on his contract before he’s due for a massive pay raise. If he keeps up the level of production he had this season after the Heat picked him up off the scrap heap, there’s no doubt he’s going to get an eight-figure annual salary.

So that leaves Wade, understandably wanting respect from the organization he’s given so much to, but in a tricky place in his career. If he wants an upgrade over the $16.1 million player option he has next season, he might have trouble getting it on the open market. Even with the salary cap set to spike next year when the league’s new TV deal kicks in, it’s hard to see too many teams lining up to give a 33-year-old with a long injury history and declining athleticism max or near-max money. Wade, in his current state, is worth more to the Heat than he is to any other team.

It’s impossible to imagine Wade playing for a team besides the Heat — but then again, it was tough to picture Paul Pierce playing for a team besides the Celtics until he was traded to Brooklyn in 2013. Wade wants to stay in Miami and the Heat want to keep him. It’s just a matter of figuring out a number that both sides can feel good about. That could be tougher than they think.

Pascal Siakam scores 37, Raptors remain red hot with win vs. Suns

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TORONTO (AP) — Pascal Siakam had 37 points and 12 rebounds and the Toronto Raptors beat the Phoenix Suns 118-101 on Friday night for their 16th victory in 17 games.

Serge Ibaka scored 16 points, Fred VanVleet and Terence Davis each had 14, Kyle Lowry had 13 points and 10 assists and OG Anunoby aded 12 points for the defending NBA champion Raptors.

After Toronto’s franchise-record 15-game winning streak ended with a loss at Brooklyn in the final game before the All-Star break, the Raptors bounced back by starting the second half with their eighth consecutive home victory.

The Raptors have not lost back-to-back games since an overtime loss at Indiana on Dec. 23 and a home loss to Boston on Christmas Day. Toronto has gone 19-1 since.

Siakam connected on 12 of 19 attempts, going 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

That was just one fewer than the six 3-pointers the Suns managed on 34 attempts. Phoenix shot 17.6%t from long range, its lowest mark of the season. No Suns player made more than one shot from distance.

Devin Booker scored 21 points and Deandre Ayton had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix. The Suns lost for the seventh time in nine games.

Ayton returned to the starting lineup after missing the final two games before the All-Star break because of a sore left ankle.

Phoenix trailed 93-78 through three quarters, but the Suns cut the gap to six points, 96-90 on a basket by Ayton with 8:08 left to play. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made a pair from the line, and VanVleet and Siakam both scored to put the Raptors up 102-90 with 6:58 remaining.

Booker missed a 3 with 4:45 left that would have made it a four-point game. Anunoby scored on a dunk and, after another missed 3 by the Suns, Ibaka banked home a 3-pointer to restore Toronto’s 12-point cushion.

Moe Harkless says no buyout with Knicks: “I’ll be here the rest of the year”

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Moe Harkless went from a guy often starting and playing critical minutes for a contender in the Clippers to being the matching salary in a trade and finding himself on the woeful Knicks.

“It is definitely an adjustment with the way things are,” Harkless told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “Everything is different, the culture and everything.”

If there was a player nobody would blame for wanting a buyout and the chance to get back to a team playing for something, it would be Harkless.

That’s not happening. Multiple reports have surfaced that he is not talking buyout with New York running up to the March 1 deadline. The latest comes from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Then Harkless was even more direct speaking to Bondy.

“I’ll be here the rest of the year,” he said.

Harkless has fans in NBA front offices, with the Lakers rumored to be among them (although they are about to land Markieff Morris in a similar role). Harkless could play good defensive minutes on the wing down the stretch for a team, buying rest for key guys, plus in the playoffs he could be advantageous in certain matchups.

Morris and the Knicks have time to change their minds, but it sounds like he will play out the season in New York then be a free agent next summer.

Lakers reportedly will waive DeMarcus Cousins to clear roster spot

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If the Lakers are going to add Markieff Morrisas has been rumored — or anyone else via free agency, they are going to need to clear out a roster spot.

That has the Lakers looking to waive DeMarcus Cousins, a report broken by Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Cousins signed with the Lakers over the summer but never set foot on the court with them after tearing his ACL during summer workouts (which led to a scramble and L.A.’s fortuitous signing of Dwight Howard). He was around the team and rehabbing, and while they would never officially rule him out, Cousins was never expected to play.

He was not waived before because his $3.5 million salary might have been useful in a trade. When that didn’t materialize at the deadline it, became likely he could get waived.

It’s highly unlikely a team picks up Cousins this season, while he continues to rehab from his injury. However, it might be a good roll of the dice this summer by a team to sign him to a minimum contract for next season. Cousins still has some NBA basketball in him, if he can just stay healthy.

Karl-Anthony Towns has fractured wrist, to be re-evaluated in two weeks

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Karl-Anthony Towns was a surprise scratch from the Timberwolves last game before the All-Star break, a “left wrist injury” delaying the home debut of him with D'Angelo Russell (they did play a road game together in Toronto). Then came the rumors he could miss a few games when play started up again.

It’s going to be more than a few games, more than a few weeks.

Towns has a fractured left wrist, the team announced Friday. He is out and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. From the team press release:

“While Towns has been diligent in treatment with a goal of return to play, he has been assessed by multiple specialists over the last several days and the team continues to gather information on the optimal management strategies.”

Towns had been playing through wrist pain for a couple of weeks before this diagnosis.

Towns is having a career year on offense, averaging  26.5 points a game while shooting 41 percent from three (on 7.9 attempts per game), plus grabbing 10.8 rebounds a night. That has not translated into wins for Minnesota, however.

Towns being out doesn’t hurt the Timberwolves in the short term, they have fallen far out of the playoff chase in the West. However, this cuts into time Towns and Russell could have used to grow accustomed to each other’s games. It’s time lost for the coaching staff and front office as they evaluate the fit of players they have around Towns and Russell.