FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Please see the last post for our scoop on the Dwyane Wade/Heat contract impasse, which has left Wade mulling whether to opt out of his contract in late June and potentially consider other teams:
Here are some additional points to keep in mind:
### One Wade associate said the Wade camp's impression is that the Heat believes Wade is bluffing and that he wouldn’t really leave.
It's still difficult to envision Wade leaving and only Wade knows for sure if he would really leave if the Heat refuses to budge in contract talks.
That said, several Wade associates have said he's open to considering signing elsewhere if the Heat doesn't increase its offer. And one of them said Wade simply wants to feel like he is being taken care of, like he's being treated completely fairly.
As hard as it is to see Wade departing, don't underestimate a proud, accomplished athlete's desire to feel appreciated.
It's not like Wade is asking for Kobe Bryant money, either. Kobe will make $78 million over a three-year period, including next season. But at the same time, Wade doesn't want to make far below what elite players earn. That's certainly a justifiable position.
### That said, this is certainly not a case of the Heat wanting to mistreat Wade. From Miami's perspective, this has everything to do with preserving cap flexibility.
Here’s what the decision essentially comes down to for Pat Riley and Micky Arison: If they give Wade the big-money contract he wants, and if they give Hassan Whiteside the type of huge contract he could command as an unrestricted free agent next summer, is a nucleus of Wade, Chris Bosh, Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Josh McRoberts (and potentially Luol Deng) enough to contend for a championship if supplemented only with very low-money role players and this year’s No. 10 draft pick?
That might get the Heat to the second round, but it’s questionable if it’s enough to get the Heat past Cleveland or beat Golden State or whoever emerges out of the West in future years.
Therein lies the Heat’s quandary in paying Wade what he wants. Deng, incidentally, hasn’t said if he’s opting out of a deal that would pay him $10.1 million next season.
Keep in mind that if Dragic re-signs, he could make as much as $21.8 million annually if he gets a max deal (and that might be necessary to keep him). Bosh’s five-year, $118 million contract will pay him $23.7 million in 2016-17.
If Hassan Whiteside continues to develop next season, he could command $20 million or more annually as an unrestricted free agent next summer.
So if the Heat kept Bosh, re-signed Dragic and Whiteside and gave Wade something much closer to $20 million than $10 million annually, that would leave the Heat with very little cap space for 2016-17.
Throw in the $5.8 million due McRoberts in 2016-17, let alone a new deal for Deng, and that would leave the Heat potentially well above an $89 million cap.
Conversely, most of the league would have cap space to pursue players in a 2016 free agent class that potentially will include Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah and Mike Conley, among others.
But even if Wade settles for something in the range of $10 million for 2016-17, the Heat still wouldn’t have the cap space to pursue the elite free agents of that class if it re-signs Dragic and gives a mega-deal to Whiteside.
### For the Heat, the problem with Wade forcing the issue now is that it doesn't give Riley next year to judge whether his current nucleus is good enough. Riley would have cap room if he part ways with Whiteside next summer, but the Heat assuredly will want to keep Whiteside if he keeps improving.
At the same time, Wade's decision to try to force the issue now is understandable, because why risk an injury next season without the security of a new three-year contract?
### One friend of Wade pointed out that Dragic’s future is another chip that Wade holds in negotiations, because the chances of Dragic bolting this summer would increase if Wade does.
For Dragic, one of the appealing aspects of re-signing with Miami is playing alongside Wade.
Dragic prefers to remain with the Heat (and playing with Wade), but the Lakers and Knicks, among others, are ready to pounce if Dragic considers other options.
### If the Heat relents and gives Wade a contract close to what he's seeking, there will be an even greater need for cheap labor to fill out the team's supporting cast. And that would make it more likely for the Heat to keep its 10th overall pick (instead of trading it) in order to add a player who would come cheaply, or relatively cheaply, for five years.
### The Heat has always prefered Wade be lighter than heavier, even more so now that it intends to run more next season. So it's encouraging that Wade has dropped his weight from 228.2 to 216.5.
### This was in no way related to the Wade story, but we hear the Heat auditioned two draft-eligible shooting guards Thursday: Auburn's KT Harrell, who averaged 18.5 points and shot 43.4 percent on threes last season (among the best in the nation) and Tennessee’s Josh Richardson (16 points, 35.9 percent on threes).
### UM and FIU, who meet at 7 p.m. Friday in the Coral Gables regional, haven’t played in baseball since 2008 because of bad blood between UM coach Jim Morris and FIU coach Turtle Thomas.
Thomas was on the UM staff from 1988 to 1999 (Morris came to UM before the 1994 season) but the two men had a dispute over recruiting practices and mutually agreed (in a midseason meeting with then-athletic director Paul Dee) that Thomas would leave at the end of that 1999 season.
According to a UM baseball source, UM believes Thomas put the Hurricanes in a “pickle” by making (accepted) offers to more players than they had scholarships for. There could have been other issues, too, but both coaches have shown no interest in discussing the matter.
### Good to see Joe Philbin (beginning his fourth season) brainstorming for ways to try to keep his team fresher at the end of the year. One player said he was worn out by the end of last season and blamed some of the coaching staff’s decisions as a factor in that.
The Dolphins lost three of their last four in 2014 and are 3-9 in their final two games over the past six years.
### Among the developments that impressed us during Tuesday's OTA session were the ball skills displayed by Brice McCain and Bobby McCain. Each deflected a pass.
On the flip side, Brice McCain was called for holding on DeVante Parker, and Bobby McCain let an interception bounce off his fingers, into the arms of receiver Tyler McDonald.
### The Dolphins have been impressed with Walt Aikens' maturation this offseason, and Aikens took second-team safety snaps Tuesday, behind Reshad Jones and Michael Thomas.
Thomas was filling in for Louis Delmas, who is participating in parts but not all of practice after last December's ACL surgery.
### Liked what we saw from defensive end Terrence Fede, who had at least one would-be sack.
### The private sentiment among some inside the Marlins clubhouse, expressed by one player, can be summarized this way: Yes, we like Dan Jennings personally and respect him. But if the team spent money and says it’s committed to winning, how can it hire a manager with no coaching experience beyond high school baseball? Jennings has leaned on Jim Leyland and Jack McKeon, among others, for advice.