Wade says he'll stay if Heat contend
MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade will remain in Miami on one condition: He wants the Heat to become championship contenders again, the quicker the better.
Otherwise, he might need moving trucks next summer.
The reigning NBA scoring champion, who can opt out of his Heat contract after the 2009-10 season, said Monday that simply getting to the playoffs "is not enough" to satisfy him anymore and that his long-term commitment to Miami hinges entirely on the franchise getting back into the mix for the title trophy he hoisted just three years ago.
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"I'm going to listen. I owe the Miami Heat that much. I'm going to listen to what they have to say and I'm going to think about it," Wade told The Associated Press. "But right now, the way I feel, I want to make sure that we're on track to where I want us to be on track to before I sign back."
Wade made clear that he would like to stay with the Heat, reiterating something he's said countless times in recent months. There's no acrimony between the 2006 NBA Finals MVP and Heat president Pat Riley either, and Wade said that the jump Miami made this past season -- from 15 wins and the league's worst record in 2007-08 to 43 wins and the No. 5 seed in the East in 2008-09 -- was thrilling.
"I'm good with that," Wade said, "for one year."
Another season around .500, though, won't be as enticing.
"That's not enough for me," said Wade, who set career bests last season in scoring average (30.2 per game), 3-point goals (88, three more than his total from his first five NBA seasons combined), steals (2.2 per game), blocks (1.3 per game) and games played (79).
At 27, he feels like he's just entering his prime -- and doesn't want to miss any opportunity for more titles.
"I've told Coach Riley this: All my life, all I've ever wanted to do is win and be put in a position where I can win and succeed," Wade said. "Build me a team. Put the pressure on me to win a championship. Give me a team and say, 'All right, you've got to go do it,' and I'll take that pressure. Give me guys that we feel can compete every year to win a championship. I don't want to go anywhere else."
Wade's contract status is the biggest issue facing the Heat this summer. He could sign an extension as early as next week.
His destination after next season has been an oft-discussed topic, especially since he and good friend LeBron James structured their last contracts the same way to have the flexibility to become free agents in 2010.
"I want to make sure that we stay competitive and we have an opportunity to win championships, like I've done before," Wade said. "I don't want to be content with winning games. I don't want to win games. I want to win championships. That's what I'm all about."
Already this summer, the Heat have seen plenty of teams in the East make big moves. Shaquille O'Neal -- Wade's former superstar teammate -- was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers to play alongside James. The Orlando Magic landed Vince Carter; the Boston Celtics reportedly agreed with Rasheed Wallace; the Detroit Pistons picked up Ben Gordon; and the Toronto Raptors seem poised to sign Hedo Turkoglu.
"D-Wade wants what's best for the Miami Heat, period," former Heat center Alonzo Mourning said last week. "Obviously, he wants more help for the Heat to get to that next level again. He feels like we've got good pieces around us. We just need a little bit more."
Wade sees it the same way.
"My talents can help a team compete for a championship," Wade said. "I've proven that."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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