Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem are returning to the Heat, even if LeBron James will not, and Luol Deng will join them in Miami.
The Heat re-signed Wade to a two-year contract Tuesday. Media reports placed different values on the deal. The 32-year-old All-Star guard will make $31.1 million over the two years, according to ESPN.com, while Miami-area newspapers put the contract value at $34 million. The second year is a player option.
Wade wound up taking a big pay cut by opting out of his previous deal, which would have paid him $42 million the next two years.
“Home is Where The Heart Is... My Home,My City,My House..#HeatLifer,” Wade tweeted.
Heat president Pat Riley said, “Dwyane has been the franchise cornerstone for this team since the day he arrived 11 years ago. He has shown his commitment to the Heat many times over the course of his career and has always been willing to sacrifice in order to help build this team into a champion. This time is no different.
“I am ecstatic to have him back in the fold and I am confident that Dwyane, as always, will be leading this team as we look to contend for NBA championships.“
Riley touted the signing of Deng, a 10-year veteran who spent last season with the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Heat did not disclose contract terms for Deng, but previous reports put the deal at two years and $20 million.
“Signing Luol Deng is one of the most important free agent signings that we have ever had in the history of the franchise,“ Riley said. “He is a proven All-Star and quintessential team player, both as a scorer as well as an All-NBA defender. He brings the attitude of a warrior and competes every single night against the very, very best. We are thrilled to welcome him to the Heat family.“
Wade’s physical decline was at the forefront of conversation during and in the aftermath of the Heat losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals last month. Wade said after the series-deciding loss that he will never point to health as a hurdle.
“I just struggled a little bit,“ Wade said. “As I told you guys, I’m never going to point at anything physically. I felt fine. I just struggled a little bit offensively. You know, I wish I could have done more, but it’s the nature of the game. So nothing physically at all.“
Yet, Wade went from a Flash redux in the Eastern Conference finals series with the Pacers to a sluggish and out of sync flop in the NBA Finals, shooting 43.8 percent from the field and averaging 15.2 points per game. He battled knee issues for most of the 2012-13 season and was held out of most back-to-back games in 2013-14 to preserve him with the idea his fresh legs would help carry Miami to a third title in four seasons as James’ sidekick.
Wade opted out of a contract that would have paid him more than $41 million with a mission of keeping together the trio he helped recruit to be known as The Big Three. But James put the kibosh on a reunion when he announced last week in an essay that he would instead join the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Consequently, Wade will end up taking a $5 million pay cut in the short term that gave the Heat the flexibility to sign Bosh and small forward Luol Deng.
“As a friend and a teammate, I am sad to see my brother LeBron leave to begin a new journey,“ Wade said in his statement. “In 2010, we decided to come together all for one goal — to win championships and we succeeded. We were friends when we first joined the league and created an unbreakable bond the past four years. Our collaboration will always be very special to me both personally and professionally. We shared something unique and he will always be part of my family. LeBron made the right decision for himself and his family because home is where your heart is. I know this was not an easy decision to make and I support him in returning to his roots. As an organization, a community, and as individuals, we achieved the goals we set when we first signed on together. We are champions.“
Haslam agreed to a two-year deal worth $5.6 million, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He joined the Heat in 2003 and has remained a mainstay through the years. In 46 games last season, Haslam averaged 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds.
The Heat also announced Tuesday the signing of forward James Ennis. Acquired in a trade during the 2013 NBA Draft, Ennis spent last season playing in Australia.
In six NBA Summer League games with the Heat this month, Ennis is averaging 15.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
Riley earlier re-signed point guard Mario Chalmers and brought in free agents Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger.