As expected, Wade signs shorter contract with Heat

Updated: July 13, 2006, 2:01 AM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade may continue wearing a Miami uniform through the 2010-11 season, and if all goes according to his plan, he'll stay with the Heat even longer.

Dwyane Wade
Wade

Wade signed a long-awaited contract extension on Wednesday. The deal is for three seasons, beginning in 2007-08, and has a player option for a fourth year -- much like the one agreed to earlier Wednesday by LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The exact value of Wade's contract will not be known until the next salary cap is set in July 2007, but based on some cap projections, it could be worth in the $63 million range.

"We tried to figure out what would be best for the Wade family, the Wade name and actually for the Miami Heat also," Wade said. "So I'm excited. I got an opportunity once again to sign back with the Heat, the team that drafted me, and I'm looking forward to a bright future."

Wade -- the MVP of this year's NBA Finals -- will make $3.84 million next season, when Miami will defend its championship. He'll make considerably more in 2007-08, when he'll be eligible to earn a base salary of 25 percent of the league's salary cap.

It was widely reported in recent days that Wade agreed to sign a five-year extension with the Heat, but no such pact was ever in place. Instead, this deal gives Wade the chance to secure another long-term extension before the NBA's current collective bargaining agreement expires.

"What's best for me and Miami is signing this deal," Wade said.

There is one obvious drawback; if Wade suffers a major injury, he does not have that fifth year of guaranteed money.

"I don't play the game worried about injuries," Wade said. "That's something you cannot control."

Getting Wade -- a 6-foot-4 guard who has blossomed into one of the league's biggest stars over his first three seasons -- to agree to an extension was Miami's top offseason priority, according to Heat coach Pat Riley, and the signing was hardly unexpected.

Both sides entered the process saying they expected the talks to go smoothly, and Wade insisted many times in recent weeks that he was confident a deal would be reached.

Now that this one is done, Wade expects another deal with the Heat to come four years from now, too.

"I'm going to continue to be with the Heat as long as they want me," Wade said.

Wade said he, James and Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets -- three of the top five picks in the 2003 draft class -- all talked about their extensions and weighed the differences between taking the three-year-with-an-option offer as opposed to the straight five-year pacts they were all eligible to receive.

But Wade insisted that James' deal with Cleveland did not sway him in his own decision-making process.

"I never got the impression, and they never really pushed in the negotiations, for Dwyane to accept the longer-term deal," said Henry Thomas, Wade's agent. "I think Pat was very understanding of the position that Dwyane took. From a business standpoint, he understood the interest in Dwyane having flexibility."

Wade averaged 39.3 points on 51 percent shooting in Miami's four consecutive wins over the Dallas Mavericks last month, capping the Heat's march to their first league title.

He had career-bests of 27.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.95 steals, 49.5 percent shooting from the field and 78.3 percent from the foul line this past season for the Heat, while also averaging 6.7 assists. His scoring, rebounding, steals and shooting percentages have risen each season.

Wade has been in high demand over the last month, with numerous television appearances and other obligations taking him to New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. And a trip to Las Vegas looms; he's expected to report there next week to begin training with the U.S. basketball team for this summer's world championships.

While acknowledging that there's much going on in his off-court world, Wade still sounded eager for that camp to begin.

"I'm a basketball player. That's what I do. It'll come back to me like riding a bicycle," Wade said.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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