Watch Dwyane Wade play the last couple of seasons, and the slippage is obvious.
The future Hall of Famer is averaging 10.9 points per game on 50.4 true shooting percentage, with a PER of 14.9 — all career lows. Things have been worse since he came to Miami at the trade deadline. Wade still has flashes, he still is an important influence in the locker room, but at age 36 and with long-bothersome keees, he is just not the same player.
He is a free agent this summer, and if he re-signs anywhere, it will be Miami. They will pay him what they can. The question is, does he want to play another year? Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald asked him just that.
“I don’t know,” Wade said. “I have told everybody around me that I am taking it after this season and go from there. It’s the first year I’ve ever went into the summer with that mind-set. I always went into it as a free agent or opting out of a deal to get another deal. This is the first summer I can say I’m just going into the summer and see how I feel and see the position this organization is in and go from there. I’m not really concerned with it, honestly. I’m cool with whatever I decide to do. It will be my decision…
“As you get older, it’s a different kind of grind to get ready for games, to get your body ready. [And] can you mentally go through another year and give it your all and not be checked out in the middle of that season [Udonis Haslem] always talked about, as you get older, you take it year by year. But this is the first summer that I will go into the summer and say I ain’t got much hair left, but I’m going to let my hair down and look at everything as a whole, my family and basketball.”
Wade has to answer the question that Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett recently did, and great players have had to grapple with for many years: Is he willing to go through the hard work this off-season (and during the season) to get his body ready to play again? It’s never about a love for the game with the greats. It’s ultimately not about the money, they have plenty. It’s not about wanting to be part of the team in the locker room and on the bus. Those are givens. The question is does he want to put in the time in the weight room, on the training table, with the medical staff and training staff to push his body to get it where he needs it to perform? There comes the point when it’s not worth it anymore.
Wade is still playing well enough Miami would bring him back for one more run. The ball will be in his court.