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Wayne Ellington returning to Miami on one-year deal

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LAS VEGAS — Wayne Ellington is returning to the Miami Heat, after nearly two weeks of waiting and wondering if he would get his wish to be back with the club for a third season.

A person with direct knowledge of the terms said Thursday night that Ellington accepted a $6.3 million, one-year offer that exactly matches his salary from last season. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been signed.

Keeping Ellington was a top priority for the Heat this summer, and the veteran guard made clear that he wanted to be back in Miami. On Day 12 of free agency, a deal finally got struck.

“I feel great here in Miami,” Ellington said. “I’ve built very strong relationships with a lot of people. These guys that I go to war with every night, we’ve gone from strangers to teammates to brothers. This is where I wanted to be.”

Ellington set a Heat record with 227 3-pointers last season, and established career highs of 11.2 points and 26.5 minutes per game.

When he was good, Miami was really good a year ago. Ellington appeared in 77 games – the Heat went 29-13 when he made at least three 3-pointers, and went 13-22 when he failed to connect on at least that many.

And he made it clear many times, both during the season and even in the offseason, that he wanted to remain with the Heat.

Miami was the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, falling to Philadelphia in the first round. Miami’s roster, for now, is fairly similar to what it was last season – though the Heat are still waiting to see if they will be bringing back veterans Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, two players whose status for 2018-19 remains unclear.

“I don’t think we showed everything we were capable of last season,” Ellington said. “Already this summer, guys have been working. Guys have improved. That’s what it’s about. You’ve got to get better from within, from inside your team. And naturally, I think we’ll continue to get better.”

Miami is Ellington’s seventh team, and just the second club that he’s been with for 100 games. He was changing addresses annually for a five-year stretch before arriving in Miami – his career started with three seasons in Minnesota, followed by short stints with Memphis, Cleveland, Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn that preceded his signing with the Heat in 2016.

“I feel like this is home now,” Ellington said.

Heat enjoy Udonis Haslem denying Hawks fans free food (video)

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Hawks fans have been rooting for their team to lose for months, hoping for better lottery position. It’s a miserable position.

They finally got a great chance to cheer against the opponent last night.

Though Atlanta trailed the Heat by 30 in the final minute, Udonis Haslem – who hadn’t attempted a free throw all season – missed the first of two free throws. A second miss would give ticketed Atlanta fans free food.

But Haslem nailed the free throw and shrugged off the dismayed crowd as the Miami bench went wild.

Dwyane Wade doesn’t know if he’s playing another season

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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.

Heat president Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade mended fences at agent’s funeral

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There was a real disconnect between Heat president and Dwyane Wade stemming the guard leaving Miami for the Bulls in 2016.

That has obviously been fixed, with the Heat trading for Wade yesterday.

How did Riley and Wade get over their issues?

The funeral for Wade’s agent Henry Thomas – who also represented Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem – provided an opportunity (and probably perspective).

Wade, via Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

“The hug that we embraced was real and it was all we needed,” Wade said of the brief encounter with Riley at the funeral. “That’s it. That’s all we both needed. I walked away and I felt better about everything, without even getting into anything.”

This worked out well for everyone involved.

Wade got his big payday – $38,750,000 – from the Bulls and got to play home games in his native Chicago. He also can proceed without wondering what it would have been like to chase a title with LeBron James on the Cavaliers. (Wade now knows, and it apparently wasn’t for him.)

Riley can still implicitly praise Wade by saying he should’ve given Wade a max deal in 2014 without actually being burdened by what would have been a bad contract. And he still gets to bring back Wade in a happy homecoming.

As Haslem put so poetically, via Reynolds:

“Hank’s still doing his job from above,” Haslem said.

Rumor: Miami, Los Angeles among Dwyane Wade’s potential landing spots

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Dwyane Wade is going to be an unrestricted free agent after he agrees to a buyout by the Chicago Bulls. Talks may not have started between the two sides, but it’s only a questions of when and for how much.

Speculation has already turned to where Wade will go as a free agent.

LeBron James and some around the Cavaliers are confident he will join them to chase a ring. Udonis Haslem is among those pushing for Wade to return to Miami to finish his Hall of Fame career. Now, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald throws another city into the mix — Los Angeles.

Though ESPN reported that LeBron James’ camp expects Dwyane Wade to end up with Cleveland if he reaches a buyout with the Bulls, a Wade associate has been telling people that Miami and Los Angeles are also appealing destinations for Wade…

But the person who mentioned Miami and L.A. to me was the same person who first alerted me to my scoop a few years ago that Wade’s negotiations with the Heat were not going well – the first time that information ever surfaced (and a year later, the sides divorced).

Take the Los Angeles idea with a grain of salt, but it’s possible. Also, note that Jackson says Los Angeles, not Lakers or Clippers. Players do love Los Angeles and the big stage it can provide for their brand.

With the Clippers, Wade would move to a good but not great team that will be battling for a playoff spot at the bottom of the conference. That doesn’t seem like a place he would choose.

The Lakers would appear to be a set up for LeBron coming to Los Angeles in a year, something rumored around the league. Wade would fit there and be a championship veteran to help guide the young guns on that team. That said, the Lakers are not going to be a very good team this year — improved, probably very entertaining, showing promise with their young and talented core, but this is still a team with lots of questions, particularly on the defensive end that will learn some lessons the hard way. In a deep West they are not playoff bound. Does Wade want a year of that?

The smart money is still on Miami or Cleveland.

Whenever the buyout happens, Wade will have options. Los Angeles is just another one.