The Heat were once the center of the NBA universe and now they join the rest of the cellar dwellers after Dwyane Wade left Miami for the cold, harsh winters of Chicago. I’m sure many Heat fans never envisioned a day when the greatest athlete in South Florida sports history would walk out the door for another team. Then again who could envision that a Presidential candidate would be found by the FBI to be reckless and irresponsible with classified data? Times have certainly changed.
Both sides can take blame for Wade leaving. The Heat didn’t want to give Wade the Kobe deal and handcuff them for the next two years and Wade wanted to be paid like a superstar he use to be. In the end everyone’s egos got the better of them and this union ended as fast as being a Heat Lifer was born.
The splinters in the Heat organization that went unnoticed amongst the Championship parades led way to full fractures that were too big to repair. As much as Pat Riley was given credit for the Championship team assembly he is also largely to blame for the aftermath that ensued when Lebron went home. Pat Riley thought being Pat Riley was enough to sway free agents and lure talent to Miami but the past few years his name hasn’t had the weight it once had.
Riley bitter that Lebron left tried to put a team together that could compete and ultimately defeat the Cavs in a playoff series. He, as well as others in the Heat organization, panicked when they thought Chris Bosh would bolt and ultimately gave him a contract that was way above what he was worth. The same can be said about the Goran deal. With Goran, Bosh and Wade accounting for the majority of the cap space, Riley did not have the flexibility to bring in much needed shooters nor was it attractive to have 3 players on the wrong side of 30.
Riley wasn’t the one who was the bait that attracted the free agents to Miami, Wade was. Somewhere in the front office that fact was overlooked. Now who wants to come to Miami to play? Chris Bosh is literally a drop of blood away of retiring. You just gave a max deal to a player with maturity issues and your really don’t know what you’re going to get from him. You also don’t know what to expect from Josh Richardson or Justice Winslow, their two prized rookies from a year ago.
The Heat have $20 million of free money and no big names to give it to. All that is left out there are over the hill players who only deserve a max deal. You can forget about a trade. What do the Heat have to offer? Draft picks? Riley tosses those around the same way he tosses his rings across the table to entice free agents. The Heat should trade Goran and Bosh and blow the whole thing up. Reload for free agency next year when there is a pod of whales available and use their 1st round draft pick to get some young talent.
In this whole mess Wade is just as guilty. He wanted to be paid for loyalty but this is a business. Ask Bill Belichick about what he thinks about loyalty. He would cut Tom Brady and wouldn’t blink twice. Riley is the same way. Asking for all that money wasn’t a smart business decision for the Miami Heat. Wade should never have opted out back in 2014. He screwed up there by thinking the Heat would take care of him. Again this is a business and loyalty is word that has little meaning or value like Heat Lifer.
Wade needed his ego stroked. He knew he would be the best player on the team this year and wanted to get paid like it, but he fails to see that if he was Dwyane Wade 5 years ago he would have received his money. He still thought he was a top 10 player in the league even though he is 34 going on 35 and not even close to the same player 4 years ago. He was hurt that the Heat went after Durant, he was probably upset Whiteside had his deal first and let’s not even talk about how he felt when the Heat lowballed him at $10 million for one year.
Wade did what was best for Wade and went to Chicago. That is his choice, but he knows he isn’t going to win a ring there just like the Heat weren’t even going to come close to winning a ring either. He wanted to get paid and he did, even if it was just $7 million more in total from the Heat’s 2 year, $40 million offer.
Sure it sucks to see the best player ever to wear a Miami Heat uniform flee to another team, but often times older players change teams at the end of the careers. Sometimes for money, sometimes to chase a ring. Charles Barkley did. Clyde Drexler did. Hell even younger players in their prime switch teams for a ring. Just look at Kevin Durant.
Could all this have been avoided, absolutely but that means nothing now. Dwyane Wade is a Bull and the Heat are a mess. Both teams are going nowhere this year, but the future of the Heat is up to Pat Riley. What will he do? Can he handle being a losing franchise for the next few years while they rebuild and retool? Does Riley even want to stick around for that? Time will tell.
It is an end of an era, but it is not the end of the Miami Heat.