NBA Most Captivating Storylines of 2016: Dwyane Wade Leaves Miami

As the 2016 calendar year comes to an end, the LWOS MCXM series captures the 10 most captivating moments and storylines from 2016 in each sport. For LWOPB, we take a look at the 10 events that drew headlines this past year, bringing drama, excitement, or intrigue to the NBA. 

The first article of this series takes a look at Dwyane Wade‘s shocking departure from the Miami Heat, where he spent the first thirteen years of his career.

NBA Most Captivating Storylines of 2016: Dwyane Wade Leaves Miami

Perhaps the most shocking NBA transaction of 2016 was Dwyane Wade’s dramatic departure from the Miami Heat. On July 15th, the Chicago Bulls officially announced they had signed the iconic guard to a two-year, $47 million deal.

Dwayne Wade is almost synonymous with the Heat franchise. He won a championship before the superteam. He continued to produce after it. And for those four years from 2010 to 2014, he was an integral part of Miami’s Big-3 that dominated the East and claimed two more titles.

So why would Wade end such a harmonious relationship? The NBA’s salary cap had soared in the 2016 offseason, shifting the market in such a way that even mediorce players could earn ridiculous salaries. Wade knew he deserved more.

Contract Deadlock

Throughout his career with the Heat, he was never their highest-paid player. In those 13 years, he made 12 All-Star appearances and was the face of the franchise. But his salary didn’t reflect that. Yet, the Heat, fresh from handing Hassan Whiteside a max deal, couldn’t justify such high demands from a 34 year-old.

So, there was an impasse. Wade wasn’t prepared to be earn sidekick money when he was the superhero – even if he was ageing. But Miami’s president Pat Riley, wouldn’t back down either; it simply wasn’t in the team’s long-term interests.

And suddenly – in an instant – he was gone. It stunned the basketball world, perhaps even more than Kevin Durant‘s controversial move to the Golden State Warriors. When the 2016/17 season started in October, the most bizarre image was seeing Wade appear in a Bulls jersey.

In the end, it was less about money than it was about respect – or depending on whose side you’re on – ego. His potential salary of $20 million per-year to stay in Miami only worked out as about $3 million less than his Bulls offer, due to Florida‘s tax laws. Did Wade really care about a proportionally small bonus? Not directly. It was all about the principle. He had sacrificed so much to the franchise, it was time for his salary to reflect that. Wade wasn’t their priority. The Heat signed Whiteside before him, they courted Durant, and in so doing, they neglected their leader.

What Happened Next?

The move to Chicago seemed a strange fit. They had already signed a ball-dominant guard in Rajon Rondo, to join their incumbent ball-dominant guard – Jimmy Butler. Dwyane Wade also fits this mould, not to mention he completed a trio of strong personalities. It didn’t make sense.

And for Miami, losing Wade, and subsequently Chris Bosh to blood clots, severely wounded them. Although they kept Whiteside, the team looked far from being a contender. It seemed a lose-lose deal. Miami certainly held up their end. At the time of writing, they are 7-13 and 13th in the Eastern Conference.

But the Bulls have been surprisingly successful with their ‘three alphas’, with Wade averaging a shade under 20 points per game. His three-point shooting has been the most efficient of his career, proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Chicago are 11-9, including a memorable 111-105 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

At least in the short-term, Wade’s move to the Bulls has been prosperous for Chicago. He had a quiet, 13-point performance when the Bulls defeated the Heat on his return to Miami. Like the rest of us, he found it weird.


Main Photo

CHICAGO, UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 8: Dwyane Wade (L) and Jimmy Butler (R) during a NBA game between Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, United States on November 8, 2016.

(Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)