WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Answering questions (some yours, some mine) on Dwyane Wade:
### The Heat would love for Wade to take a reduced salary like two other Hall of Fame-caliber players have: Tim Duncan (who earned $10.4 million this season) and Dirk Nowitzki ($7.9 million). Wade apparently has no interest in making anything close to that low. So is that reasonable on Wade’s part?
Absolutely. Here’s why: The comparisons between Wade and Duncan and Nowitzki aren’t fair at this point because the Spurs and Mavericks stars didn’t take big cuts until well beyond this point in Wade’s career.
Wade will be entering his 13th season in the NBA. In seasons 13 through 15, Nowitzki earned $17.3 million, $19.1 million and $20.9 million, and Duncan earned $22.2 million, $18.7 million and $21.2 million.
A Wade associate has told people that Wade would welcome a contract averaging $20 million annually over the next three years. If that's true, it would be understandable, considering the year 13-15 pay ranges for Duncan and Nowitzki. Wade's agent, Henry Thomas, politely declined to confirm that or anything regarding Wade's specific financial expectations.
We've heard the Heat would prefer Wade opt in for $16 million next season, then take a very significant pay cut over the following two years.
But it's important to note that those numbers were not confirmed by the Heat, which obviously isn't saying what it will offer when formal offers can be made July 1. And I would be surprised if the Heat didn't make a solid offer at that time; whether it's to Wade's liking is another story entirely that must play out.
The variable with Wade, of course, is that he missed 28 and 20 games the past two seasons, whereas Duncan and Nowitzki never missed more than seven in any of the four seasons before their 13th.
The injuries concern the Heat, according to a Heat official, and that's understandable, too.
But in Wade's defense, the Heat sat him in some games two years ago that he could have played in. (Remember the maintanance program?) And he appeared in 86 of 87 playoff games in the Big Three era.
And also consider this: Wade has never made $20 million in a season, making him a bargain by superstar standards. Carmelo Anthony has done it twice and will at least four more times. Kobe Bryant has done it seven times (three times pocketing at least $25 million) and will once more.
Incidentally, in years 5 through 12 of their careers, Wade and Duncan each made $15.4 million on average and Nowitzki $14.6 million. Tony Parker made $11.4 million on average.
### Why doesn’t the Heat give Wade a one-year deal for the $23.5 million maximum in 2015-16, then pay him less the next two?
Miami could do that, but it would result in an astronomical tax bill next season for Micky Arison --- $65 million or even higher if Luol Deng opts in and if Goran Dragic gets close to a max contract.
The tax is more onerous because the Heat is a “repeater” tax team, having paid the tax three of the past four seasons.
### Wade spoke last summer of being interested in seeing what he could command next summer when the cap jumps to $89 million. So why does he now prefer to opt out of $16.1 million next season?
According to associates, Wade decided he wants the longterm security now instead of waiting. At 33, that seems like a prudent approach. Thomas said that there's no definite decision from Wade on the opt out, but the Heat is aware his preference at this point is to opt out.
### But can’t the Heat sign other free agents in 2016, then exceed the cap to sign Wade and Hassan Whiteside?
If Wade is a free agent in the summer of 2016, he clogs Miami’s cap (this is called a cap hold) at a rate of 150 percent of this coming season’s salary, until he signs a new deal.
Whiteside has no full Bird Rights in 2016, so the Heat must fit his salary under the $89 million cap. There is one way around that: Whiteside's Early Bird rights in 2016 allow the Heat --- in the summer of 2016 --- to offer him slightly more than next year's average salary (about $6 million) and exceed the cap that way, but that probably wouldn't be enough to re-sign him if he plays next season at the same level he did this season. Early Bird deals must be two years; Whiteside likely could command more than that as an unrestricted free agent.
Incidentally, while some are predicting Whiteside could lure a mega-deal next summer, the Heat still hopes it can sign him to a more reasonable amount for 2016-17, then possibly reward him if warranted with a bigger pay day in 2017, when he gets full Bird Rights, should he be willing to take a two-year deal with an opt out after 2016-17. Or the Heat could give him a longer deal next summer but not close to the max.
But it remains to be seen if Whiteside simply takes the highest offer next July or whether he rewards the Heat for being the team that showed the most faith in him last November.
### The Heat wants to retain some 2016 flexibility because it holds out hope of landing a star free agent in 2016, with Kevin Durant the preference. How realistic is it for Miami to keep its four best players and land an impact free agent in 2016?
The odds are stacked against it. Here’s one way that the Heat could do it: If Wade takes about $10 million and Whiteside about $8 million or vice versa for 2016-17 (hard to see that in either case); if Dragic accepts something like $98 million over five years instead of the maximum $113 million and then takes the maximum-permitted 7.5 percent pay cut from year one to two, with the promise his salary would be raised the maximum-allowed 7.5 percent each of the final three years; if Josh McRoberts is traded for little or no money back; and if the rest of the roster is composed of minimum contracts and a projected $2.5 million for this year’s No. 10 draft pick.
In that scenario, Miami could carve out a max offer for Durant or something close for DeMar DeRozan or less than that for Chandler Parsons. Or the Heat could give Wade and Whiteside more money and leave room for a third-tier small forward such as Danilo Gallinari.
Here's another: Get Whiteside to agree to a two-year Early Bird contract (starting at $6 million); Miami can exceed the cap for that. But as noted above, I have a hard time seeing Whiteside agreeing to that unless he regresses next season.
While Pat Riley and Arison should never be underestimated, keep in mind that Durant not only says he’s “excited” about the Thunder’s hiring of Billy Donovan, but also has distanced himself from South Florida, having recently sold his Miami condo.
### Can Chris Bosh restructure his contract to make this all work?
No. The NBA doesn't allow it. He’ll make $23.7 million in 2016-17.
### What does this mean for Luol Deng, who has a player option for $10.1 million for next season?
It’s difficult to see Miami giving him a sizable multiyear deal, considering the desire to leave room for a run at Durant.
### Please see the last post for our Tuesday scoop on Bosh, who took his latest step this week in his return from his health scare.
### Dolphins defensive players have spoken of how Ndamukong Suh will make their job easier. Apparently, Suh's addition is also helping the team's interior offensive linemen.
"It's helping me," guard Billy Turner told Finsiders host Greg Likens earlier today. "I'm able to develop certain techniques, knowing I'm going against the best day in and day out in practice. Knowing in a game it's not going to be more than that... sets you mind at ease."
### Suh, in practice Monday, continued his penchant of jumping offsides. And be prepared for that, Dolphins fans: Last year, he had 10 penalties called on him. Tampa's Gerald McCoy also had 10; no other defensive tackle had more than five.
### Yes, Turner admits, moving from tackle in college to guard in Miami has been an adjustment.
"The biggest transition is moving the d-linemen closer to me," Turner said. "You want to be as far away from the ball as you can so you have reaction time. Being closer to the d-linemen challenged me early on, but I'm starting to get the pace of it. [It's about] getting your hands on the defender sooner."
### Marlins president David Samson said there is no truth to a New York Daily News report that they offered their managerial job to Jeff Conine and Mike Lowell before Dan Jennings took it.
### The reason the Marlins haven’t yet gotten that luxurious new plane, which was supposed to make traveling more comfortable for players? “Unforeseen delays in production and retrofit of the plane,” Samson said.
### Though the Marlins haven't said what will happen after Jose Fernandez makes two minor league starts Saturday and again late next week, Jennings said today that he won't return to the big leagues immediately after that. Fernandez has spoken of making as many as five minor-league starts.
### UM, which has ESPN’s No. 2 rated 2016 recruiting class, added its 23rd oral commitment today in Clewiston receiver Reginald Henderson, who's so under the radar that he didn't have any other offers and has never received any recruiting mail, according to multiple reports.
There's a reason: Henderson has been ineligible the past two seasons because of grades. But Henderson, 6-4, impressed UM coaches at Miami's 7 on 7 tournament on Sunday. He joins heralded Sam Bruce, Ahmmon Richards and Dionte Mullins among receiver oral commitments in this class.
Later in the day, three-star Maryland-based defensive end Izon Pulley became UM's 24th oral commitment, per rivals.com.
### And if you missed it, UM this week also added a second high-end running back in West Palm Beach-based Travis Homer, who averaged 9.3 yards per carry and had offers from Alabama and FSU, among others.
Among 2016 running back oral commitments for UM, he joins Coral Gables’ Amir Rasul (ESPN’s No. 81 player; averaged 7.0 per carry) and Hallandale’s Zack Moss. Pahokee’s McArthur Burnett, another UM oral commitment, expects to play cornerback at UM.