The upcoming contract standoff between Dwyane Wade and the Heat has been brewing for several weeks, and with free agency less than two weeks away, it’s not going to be dying down anytime soon. All of it could be posturing, but there have been signs that Wade is seriously considering leaving the team that he has played for his entire 12-year NBA career. And according to Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix, one team that could make a run at him is the Lakers.
Again, it’s possible this is nothing more than public posturing by Wade’s agent to make the Heat sweat. It would be absolutely devastating for their franchise if they lost Wade — he’s as synonymous with them as Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant are with the Spurs and Lakers. And if they lost the greatest player in franchise history over a few million dollars, it would be impossible to sell future free agents on the “family” and #HeatLifer mythology Pat Riley has built up in his tenure there. As painful as it is, they need to bite the bullet and pay Wade.
The idea of Wade in Los Angeles is interesting, however unlikely it is. They could platoon Wade and Kobe Bryant, playing both of them limited minutes or games, as a way to keep both of them healthy for a longer period of time. Ideally, if Wade leaves the Heat, he should go somewhere where he can take on a sixth-man role. Whether he’s open to that is a different question, but he showed this year that he can still be a highly productive player when healthy. For the last few years of his career, he should look to maximize that productivity, wherever it is.