Dwyane Wade returned to Miami Thursday night in his Chicago Bulls uniform, where he was greeted with a wave of love by the fans. After 13 years in Miami, where he was the most important player in franchise history, it was an emotional night for everyone (but the Bulls came away with the win).
Pat Riley admits now he should have locked Wade up in 2014.
The summer that LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland, Wade and Chris Bosh also were free agents. Riley didn’t want Bosh to escape, so he locked the big man up with a max contract (this was before his blood clot issue surfaced). But with Wade, who was battling knee issues and on a maintenance program so he would be good for the playoffs, Riley didn’t want to go with max money, and certainly not max years. Wade played for $15 million that season, $20 million the next, then bolted for Chicago, which gave him $47 million over two years.
Riley admitted to David Aldridge of TNT he made a mistake. Here is what Aldridge said during the broadcast Thursday night.
“Riley told me before the game that, if he had to do it over again, in the summer of 2014, after LeBron James left and went back to Cleveland, we should have given Wade a max deal as well as Chris Bosh, as the team did. ‘That was wrong. I should have, we should have given him that. That’s a big second-guess, but that’s on me.'”
Sometimes a team should overpay to keep a star, because it’s good for business to keep the face of the franchise around and because it shows loyalty to future free agents. Teams don’t need to go the full Kobe Bryant and hamstring rebuilding efforts with an oversized contract, but show some loyalty and respect.
Riley seemed last summer to be okay with Wade coming back on the team’s terms or bolting. But with Bosh out Miami is rebuilding mode now they could use a stabilizing veteran like Wade, who would also help them get wins along the way.