Dwyane Wade will return to the Miami Heat next season, this after agreeing to a one-year, $20 million deal on Thursday. The two sides reached an agreement after weeks of speculation that Wade, who has spent his entire 12-year career in Miami, could be on the way out.
Now that Wade will be back in the fold, what does this mean for the Heat going forward?
“Well, it gives them flexibility that they’re going to want next summer,” NBA.com senior writer Steve Aschburner said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “A big priority for them is how they’re going to pay Hassan Whiteside, assuming he’s more than a one-season fluke. They kind of got (him) off the scrapheap last year, and (he) was so terrific for them as a rim protector shot blocker – really a full-service center once he joined the Heat. He was a bright spot to a down season. And if he can have and build on that season this year, they’re looking at a situation where they have to figure out if they can slip him in next summer because he might command $20 million a year himself. Had they given a long-term big deal to Dwyane Wade, they were going to be sort of up against it in terms of cap flexibility.
“By Wade taking the one-year deal, working with them on this, I’m not surprised,” Aschburner continued. “It’s a very good thing for the franchise, which ultimately is a very good thing for him. He’s Mr. Heat, he’ll probably be working in some capacity or maybe even owning a piece of that franchise for 30 or 40 years once he’s done playing. So I’ve got a feeling that this was a very long-term arrangement that they worked out, even though this is a one-year basketball-playing contract.”
The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, have struggled to make much headway in free agency, especially the Knicks, who last year finished with the worst record in the East and have advanced past the first round of the playoffs just once since 2000.
Why have the Knicks struggled to attract free agents?
“Look at it this way,” Aschburner said. “There are teams that have traditions of winning. NBA players are on the young side, so their memories don’t go back all that far. At least with the Lakers, you’ve got a team that won in 2010 most recently, so there are guys that know there’s a winning tradition there. The New York Knicks haven’t won a championship since any current NBA player has even been alive. You’re going back to 1973. There’s no tradition there.”
There’s also “hyperventilated media coverage” in New York and a disconnect that permeates the franchise.
Said Aschburner, “It just doesn’t set itself up as a great place for young guys to go and establish themselves with the short attention span and patience that they face there.”