Dwyane Wade has a very good case for being called the greatest Miami Heat player of all-time.
After spending 13 years with the franchise, the shooting guard has collected three NBA rings and made 12 All-Star appearances along the way. At 34-years-old, the Chicago-born star may not be at the absolute peak of his powers, but after averaging 19 points, 4.6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds a night across 74 games this term he's clearly got a lot left to give.
Wade will become an unrestricted free agent this summer at the climax of his one-year $20 million deal. Although speculation is bound to arise that Wade may depart from the only franchise he has ever known - like it did last summer - Wade has made his intentions perfectly clear.
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The fifth pick in the 2003 draft told the Palm Beach post this week that he's focusing on returning to South Beach next season and isn't even considering anything else.
“I don’t want to be on the market at all. I’m not curious at all. I want to get to it (with the Heat). I want to be able to sign my deal and move on and not have to deal with any rumours, any free agency, any this, any that,” Wade said. “This is where I want to end my career. So we’ll figure it out.”
Team president Pay Riley echoed Wade's sentiments about keeping the bond together. Much like Kobe Bryant with the Lakers in his winter years, it's almost out of principle now that they remain loyal to such a pillar in the organisation.
“We’ll sit down and we’ll talk about that with Dwyane…He wants to win, I think, as much as he wants to do anything. Compensation to a player is not just a way to get paid and to live your life,” Riley said. “Compensation to a player is about recognition and respect and place. We know where he belongs…He’s a lifer. What he’s done in this city over the last 13 years is irreplaceable and so we’re going to do the right thing. There’s no doubt.”
Riley had stated that Hassan Whiteside was their main priority this summer, but clearly Wade's situation hasn't gone unnoticed and he will get the attention that he deserves.
It could be reasonably argued that without Wade, Miami might never have won a championship. As the finals MVP in 2006, even with Shaquille O'Neal in the side, Wade was the star of the show.
He took a backseat when the Heat cleaned up in 2012 and 2013, but it's almost certain that LeBron James and Chris Bosh would never have headed to the American Airlines Arena if it wasn't for his influence.
All in all, he's been essential in the franchise's growth during his tenure and it's great to see the Heat will continue to recognise that.