After a brilliant 13-year run in Miami that produced three championships and five Finals appearances, Dwyane Wade is taking his talents to Chicago. Wade, 34, has reportedly agreed to a two-year deal worth roughly $47.5 million.
Miami wanted Wade back for less, but Pat Riley was unwilling to pay for a player no longer in his prime.
That may have been a mistake.
“Dwyane Wade has never been overpaid as a Miami Heat player,” former NBA player Eddie Johnson said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “He’s never been the highest-paid player on his team. I don’t think anyone can say that Pat Riley paid him the limit – because he didn’t. He had to take a backseat in order to allow players to come there and win a championship. The ultimate goal is to win the championship – because who’s to say Pat Riley would still be there if they had not won a championship yet? General managers get fired. Pat Riley is not immune to that. He’s moved from the Lakers to the Knicks and now to Miami, where he’s stabilized himself. But he’s been able to do it because he won the championships. Sometimes I think you have to remember that.”
Ask every NBA executive if they would take three titles if it meant having to eventually rebuild for two or three years.
“I’m sure most GMs would say yes to try to rebuild again,” Johnson said. “Like the Lakers did with Kobe. They overpaid him and it put them in a flux, but they owed him. This guy brought them five championships, and so I think the loyalty has to be on both sides.”
Wade averaged 19.0 points, 4.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game last season. The Heat reportedly could have traded Justise Winslow to make room for Wade, but that would have been difficult. Winslow, 20, averaged 6.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists as a rookie last season.
“That would be tough,” Johnson said. “And look, I’m not saying that Pat Riley was totally wrong here. But a hole was dug in regards to not understanding that this was going to happen, that this day was going to come. And obviously the due diligence to calm Dwyane Wade and get him to understand obviously was not done to the level to keep him in Miami. Right there is the key. He’s gone. He’s a Chicago Bull.”
“Every hometown player in Chicago would love to go back to their hometown team,” Johnson continued, “but I don’t know if Dwyane Wade was really that gung-ho to go back there. I think Miami was his home, and I’m sure he’s a little upset that he had to make this move. But pride can make you do things, and obviously that was the case for Dwyane Wade.”