Could it be this simple? Could Dwyane Wade have ended the debate less
than 21 hours after the season’s final bounce?
"My heart is here and anybody who knows me, I’m mostly heart more so
than anything," Wade said outside the Miami Heat locker room Wednesday
evening, a day after the Heat was knocked out of the NBA playoffs by the
Boston Celtics. "My heart is in Miami. If everything works out, I will
be in Miami.
Of course, it can’t be this simple when it comes to Wade’s impending free agency. It never is.
But consider it not only is Wade’s heart that is talking, but also his wallet.
As his in*****bent team, the Heat can offer Wade about $27 million more than any outside suitor, on a six-year contract that would max out at roughly $129 million.
"Thirty million means a lot to anybody," Wade said. "To Bill Gates, $30 million means a lot. To Slim Helu, who’s the richest man in the world this year, it means a lot. So not just to me. I don’t have that much money."
While Wade declined to offer his odds on his return, the vote was just about unanimous in his locker room.
"I see Dwyane in Miami," forward Udonis Haslem, Wade’s closest friend on the team, said Wednesday, after taking his season-ending physical.
Then there is fellow Chicago product Quentin Richardson, who spent much of the season at Wade’s side both on the court and off the court.
"My gut would tell me he’s going to be a Miami Heat next year," he said. "If I was in his shoes, I would be back."
Center Jermaine O’Neal, who, like Haslem and Richardson also will be a free agent this summer, said speculation of Wade heading elsewhere was foolish.
"He loves it here. He loves it here," O’Neal said. "I believe he will sign with them."
Wednesday’s theme was similar to Tuesday’s postgame chorus in Boston.
"I know he loves the city. I know he loves the organization. I would be shocked if he went anywhere else," O’Neal said.
Richardson sees too strong an attachment to Riley and owner Micky Arison.
"I think Dwyane knows how the city feels about him and the whole community, and especially Micky and Pat and all those guys," Richardson said.
Wade did not necessarily make it sound as if he would be on Heat recruiting trips during free agency, which could leave Riley wooing the likes of a Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire while Wade is on a recruiting visit elsewhere.