Miami Heat Should Trade Dwyane Wade
He looked done. The man who adopted “fall down seven times, get up eight” as his mantra looked to be reeling. Maybe ten years of relentlessly attacking the basket without any regard for the hazards of such daring aerial assaults had finally grounded him.
After three Finals games, Dwyane Wade was averaging a disappointing 14.3 points per game on a pedestrian 44% shooting. More telling, he'd only made five total free throws. The Dwyane Wade who keeps opposing coaches up at night uses a first step powered by rocket fuel and the balance of a ballet dancer to attempt shots at the rim at his leisure and convenience. This version lives at the line. The iteration of Wade early on in the finals and throughout the playoffs was settling for inefficient long-two pointers and was pushed away from the block on his patented-post ups. This Dwyane Wade keeps Eric Spoelstra up at night.
And then, suddenly, Wade was Wade again. His 32 points and six steals sparked the Heat to a crucial Game Four victory that evened the series. It was a vintage performance colored by shades of his Jordanesque conquest of Dallas in 2006. His 23 points and 10 timely rebounds ensured the Heat's coronation in Game 7. His play was inspired. His public battle with a serious injury to win a third championship cemented his reputation as a legendary playoff warrior. Wade's stock quickly shifted from busted to bullish.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but this exactly why the Heat should aggressively shop Wade this off-season. Any smart investor will advise you to sell a stock when it's overvalued and outperforming its long-term projections. The Dwyane Wade from the last four games of the Finals is worth trading for; it would be hard to imagine him not leading a team like the 76ers or Pistons to a playoff berth, and he has the championship pedigree and superstar charisma to fill arenas. It would be a reasonable gamble for a franchise that is in-flux or treading water.
If you're the Heat, though, why not acquire some serious assets while Wade has that championship aura glowing about him? He is extremely injury prone. He turns 32 next season and doesn't have a reliable jump shot to lean on as his athleticism inevitably declines. There is absolutely no scenario whereby he is worth a max-contract to the Miami Heat if he opts out at the end of this season. If he's struggling with health problems and consistency now, can you really see him being more valuable in 2017?
Why not, you might ask, allow Wade to play this year, hope his considerable hubris is such that he opts out to secure a new max-deal at the end of the season and let it all play out next summer? If he walks, you save about $17 million that you can spend on free agents and don't have to worry about infuriating everyone in Miami by trading a Florida icon.
My response? Titles. History. The Miami “faithful” will be fine as long as the franchise continues to be successful. Having Lebron James at the absolute zenith of his powers is not a proposition to be taken lightly. If you can make a move to retool your roster in a way that makes you better for the next five years, why not do it? Why not dangle Wade to the Nuggets for Ty Lawson? Why not try to pull a three-team trade that nets you a draft pick and a competent big man? Shoring up the interior and acquiring a proven point guard need to be priorities for the Heat moving forward.
After Wade's flash of brilliance at the end of the finals, there will be suitors, and the stakes are too high in Miami not to make a beneficial move. The sad reality is that if they want a chance to acquire “not five, not six, not seven” titles, Wade will probably not be part of the equation. We'll see if Pat Riley agrees.