Heat president Pat Riley on Dwyane Wade: ‘Any opportunities that are there, we’re always going to approach that’

Heat president Pat Riley was careful when talking about Dwyane Wade’s situation with the Bulls.

MIAMI – With the Chicago Bulls and Dwyane Wade seemingly moving toward a buyout, Heat president Pat Riley was asked about Wade returning to the city where he played for 13 seasons.

“I feel great about our relationship that we had over the 13 years,” Riley said today while addressing  the media before the start of training camp. “Anything that happens from a personnel standpoint down the road or any opportunities that are there, we’re always going to approach that.

“But right now he’s under contract with Chicago and I wish him the very best.”

Riley ended the quote by saying: “Did I finesse that enough for you?”

Wade and the Heat parted ways last summer of 2016 when the 12-time All-Star returned to his hometown, signing a two-year, $47 million deal. Wade then exercised his player option this summer, returning to Chicago for $23.8 million despite a rocky homecoming in which he feuded with teammates.

Bulls executive vice president John Paxson acknowledged Thursday there have been discussions about a buyout and the Bulls would be willing to accommodate a request from Wade but reiterated that any talks of a buyout would need to be “advantageous” for the organization.

Wade would be free to sign with any team if the two sides agree on a buyout.

“We want to work with Dwyane because we respect him very much,” Paxson said on on WSCR-670 AM. “If he doesn’t want to be here, then we want to do (the buyout). But again, the bottom line is always — and it has to be — that we have to do what’s in our best interest.”

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Could the Miami Heat be holding onto their exception for Dwyane Wade?

MIAMI – Pat Riley is being very coy about the Miami Heat’s plans for their $4.3 million exception, saying the team “probably” will hold onto the money to see if “something pops up” that would be of interest.

Of course, Miami could spend that money before the end of the month if they like any of the 90 or so remaining free agents or any other players that could shake loose in the near future.

Or, they could be saving it for months down the road if anybody becomes available through a buyout.

Say a former Heat player who wore No. 3 and helped the franchise win three titles.

Could Dwyane Wade return to the Miami Heat? Stay tuned. (Getty Images)

Just because Dwyane Wade decided to return to the Bulls for, what he said, were “24 million reasons,” that does not mean he will remain there the entire season.

Most believe Wade and the Bulls eventually will come to an agreement on a buyout, perhaps Wade giving back $8 to $10 million to be set free. The talk started soon after Wade’s decision to exercise his $23.8 million option and return to Chicago.

Bulls vice president John Paxson was asked last month about potentially buying out Wade’s contract. The question was asked at a news conference after the Bulls had traded Jimmy Butler.

Paxson said there had been no discussion about a buyout between the Bulls and Wade’s people, but added, “I will say this, in this type of scenario it would have to benefit us. It would absolutely have to benefit us.”

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Wade had a rocky season with the Bulls after spending his first 13 years in Miami. He formed an alliance with Butler, he clashed with teammates during one well-publicized rant in January and had his differences with coach Fred Hoiberg.

The warm and fuzzy homecoming Wade was seeking didn’t exactly materialize.

Still, Paxson emphasized the upside of having the 35-year-old, 12-time All-Star and three-time champion on the roster despite the Bulls going into full rebuild mode.

“Dwyane was a great pro last year and he’s been around a lot of different situations,” he said. “He was around Miami when they had a couple rebuilding years, as well, so right now we’re operating under the assumption that he’ll be here.

“But, like I said, if that subject is ever broached by them, then it would have to be advantageous for us.”

Wade has earned the right to play wherever he wants and for whomever he wants. If he is bought out and wants to finish his career where he started and heal the wounds from the messy summer of ’16, he has that right. Or if he wants to chase one more ring, or play with one of his buddies in, say, Cleveland or Houston, that’s certainly a possibility, too.

And although Wade’s career would come full circle if he returned to Miami,  how realistic is that option?

It’s no secret Wade’s skills are diminishing, as would those of any player turning 36 midway through the upcoming season. The biggest question is what role would Miami need Wade to play if he returned?

Barring an injury, Wade would not return as a starter – which likely will be the case in Chicago this season, too. Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters were among the better backcourts in the league during the second half of last season and they found a chemistry that Dragic and Wade never discovered during their year and a half together in Miami. And the Heat showed their confidence in Waiters by bringing him back on a four-year, $52 million deal.

And  Miami is as deep at shooting guard with Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson and Wayne Ellington coming off the bench. Wade’s playing time will naturally decline and chances are he will be much more effective playing limited minutes, anyway. But is that what he wants? And for a team that is not expected to compete for a title?

If he is OK with that, and he is fulfilled with three titles and a career that is a lock to end with him one day being inducted into the Hall of Fame, then it could work.

Waiters thinks it would work.

The primary reason Wade would return to Miami would be because of sentiment and making things right because at this point the Heat, though expected to be a factor in the Eastern Conference playoff picture are not challenging for a title. … At least not yet but we never know what Riley has planned.

Still, Wade could help, and even possibly enough to push the Heat into the top half of the conference if everything breaks right.

If Wade and the Heat are OK with that, there would not be a better feel-good story in the league.

But if Wade wants to chase another ring, that’s OK, too. If that’s the case, I would suggest Cleveland not hand out that No. 3 jersey.

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