BOCA RATON — Dwyane Wade wants to return to the Miami Heat. Whether it’s for one day or one season, Wade wants to end his NBA career in Miami.
“Miami, the door’s always unlocked,” Wade said to Tim Reynolds from the Associated Press. “One day I want to retire in a Miami Heat jersey. I don’t know how that will happen, but I definitely want to make sure that when I decide to hang it up, that jersey is on. Whether it’s being back there or signing a one-day deal like Paul Pierce, I want to make sure that I go out the way I came in.”
Wade’s return is just not happening right now, as he signed a one-year, $2.3 million veteran’s minimum contract with the Cavaliers on Wednesday. The future Hall of Famer is reuniting with close friend and former Heat teammate LeBron James in Cleveland.
“I didn’t know he said that, but for sure [I want him to retire in a Heat jersey],” Udonis Haslem said when asked Thursday about Wade’s comments. “He knows how I feel about him. Our relationship goes beyond the game of basketball. As a brother, I support his decision. Whether I like it, whether I agree with it, whether I’m frustrated about it, it really doesn’t matter. You take sides with your brother and you support him.”
But Haslem made it clear the Heat need to move on now that Wade has made his decision.
“I haven’t spoken to him about it yet,” Haslem said of Wade. “I’ve been busy with the task at hand of getting these guys ready for what we’ve got to do. There’s no love lost. Dwyane is always going to be my brother. I’m always going to support whatever decision he makes on or off the basketball court. Our goals don’t change as far as what we’re fighting for, what we’re working for. We’ll have a conversation about it. But there’s really nothing that changes with he and I’s relationship.”
The Cleveland deal got done after Wade and the Bulls reached an agreement on a buyout Sunday, allowing him to become a free agent. Wade ended up picking the Cavaliers as his next team over the Thunder and Heat, with the support of his wife Gabrielle Union Wade and his oldest son Zaire Wade.
Wade’s children are back in South Florida schools after spending last year in Chicago.
“When it comes down to big decisions like this, there’s two people I listen to: Her name is Gabrielle Union Wade and his name is Zaire Wade,” Wade said to the Associated Press. “I listen to Zaire and my wife and try to see what they feel and what they want. Zaire told me just like this: ‘Dad, I would love to have you here and be around more. But I want you to go get your fourth ring.’”
So that’s exactly what Wade decided to do. In Cleveland, the 35-year-old will have a chance to start at shooting guard for a title contender — an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“We just keep on saying with our group, ‘You got to get comfortable being uncomfortable,'” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday. “Well, every time I see Dwyane in a different uniform, that makes me uncomfortable. It never looks right. It certainly didn’t look right in a Chicago uniform. I can’t even visualize that.”
Wade looked at the Heat as an option, but the fit just wasn’t right with a crowded depth chart at shooting guard. Dion Waiters is pretty much locked in as Miami’s starter, and Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder and Wayne Ellington are all competing for minutes at that spot.
“Honestly, I didn’t feel they needed me there,” Wade said of the Heat to the Associated Press. “I feel that those guys are in a good place. They deserve to come back this year and see what that 30-11 was about. They don’t need me there over their shoulder or anything like that. That’s kind of how I approached it.”
But Wade hasn’t ruled out the idea of a future return to the Heat. And his former Heat coach and teammates are hoping there’s a reunion down the line, too.
Remember, Wade will be a free agent next summer.
“Whatever Dwyane does, it’s not ever going to change how I feel about him,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday. “It’s more about our hopes for where he ends up eventually.”