Commentary

Wade forecasts his future in Miami

This might be a transitional time in D-Wade's life, but the young star says one bad season won't change his mind about staying in the city he loves, Chris Sheridan writes.

Updated: October 7, 2008, 10:26 AM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN.com

Dwyane WadeIssac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesDwyane Wade is treated like a king in Miami. No wonder he wants to stay in the Sunshine State.

MIAMI -- Two years removed from a championship, two years away from an opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent and currently working his way through the difficult breakup of his marriage, you'd imagine this is a transitional period for Dwyane Wade.

A time in which he wouldn't be making any promises about his long-term plans.

And to a degree, that's true.

There are no promises, but Wade does have a prediction:

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When the summer of 2010 has come and gone, he expects to be right where he is now, occupying the same locker stall, right next to the door to the trainer's room, right here among the palm trees and the neon lights, in the only city he has called home in his five-year NBA career.

"My prediction: I'll be in the Sunshine State in two years. I feel I'll re-sign back with Miami, that's what I'm saying," Wade said. "I've always said I wanted to be here for the long haul. I started something great here; the Miami community has been unbelievable to me.

"I would love to retire here; I would love to be one of those players who stays in one organization and never moves. Not many players have ever done that, and I'd like to be one of those guys."

What could change Wade's mind? He didn't say, but perhaps it would take two more seasons like the one the franchise endured last season, when it won a paltry 15 games, Wade was hurt, Shaquille O'Neal was traded and a few more pieces of what was once a championship team were shed.

One year of having a bad year is not going to change my forecast or what I feel about this organization.

-- Dwyane Wade

Even Pat Riley is gone from the sideline, although he still is omnipresent as the team president. He handed the coaching duties to 37-year-old Erik Spoelstra, who supplants New Jersey's Lawrence Frank as the youngest coach in the NBA.

Udonis Haslem is the only other player remaining from the Heat's 2005-06 championship season, and Spoelstra noted how it struck him Sunday night before the preseason opener against Detroit that there were only five players remaining from the squad that came out of training camp a year ago.

Riley is in the process of rebuilding the Heat on the fly, his timetable shortened by the assumption that Wade simply will not stand for being associated with a losing franchise and will be ready to head elsewhere if things don't get turned around quickly.

But is that a valid assumption?

Is Wade actually holding the franchise hostage? Are the Heat in the same position as the Cavaliers, who live in mortal fear that LeBron James will leave the only state in which he has ever lived when he gets his chance at freedom two years from now?

"I ain't LeBron. He's got his own issues," Wade said. "My issues, of course I was 15-67 last year, but I've had a lot of great times here. And one year of having a bad year is not going to change my forecast or what I feel about this organization.

"I don't see myself not being here, and I know they want me here. When I talk to Pat Riley about the future, it's not, 'If we get you back,' it's always, 'We're trying to build around you.' With [owner] Micky [Arison] and his family as well. My main thing is to stay competitive and keep bringing guys in that can help us win."

One such guy arrived this summer when the Heat used the second pick in the draft to select Michael Beasley of Kansas State, creating a logjam at power forward that the Heat have not been able to unclog. Less than two weeks ago, the Heat and the Bulls still were discussing a sign-and-trade deal that would have sent Ben Gordon and Andres Nocioni to Miami in exchange for Shawn Marion. The talks died when the Bulls came to the conclusion that they'd be unable to re-sign Marion after his contract expires at the conclusion of this season, sources told ESPN.com.

"I don't see myself going nowhere," Marion said. "Right now, we got a nice little team right here, and that's what I'm focused on."

"Tell me something about this team that I don't already know," Marion was urged Sunday night.

[+] EnlargeDwyane Wade
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesWade is trying to repeat his dominating 2005-06 performance this season.

"This team right here is going to be pretty good," Marion replied.

Spoelstra used Marion at small forward and Beasley at power forward to begin the third quarter against the Pistons, and Beasley erupted for 13 points and five rebounds after a lackluster first half. Marion can expect to log even more minutes at the 3, and Wade will spend some time there, too, when Spoelstra goes with a small lineup to try to be quicker than opponents. Add Haslem, Dorell Wright (recovering from left knee surgery) and free-agent signees James Jones and Yakhouba Diawara, and the forward spots are crowded, to say the least.

As big as the glut is at those positions, the situation elsewhere is far from an embarrassment of riches. Right now, Chris Quinn is the starting point guard, backed up by Shaun Livingston, Mario Chalmers and Marcus Banks. Mark Blount and Joel Anthony are the only natural centers, and the designated 3-point gunners are Jones and Daequan Cook.

So, although there's some talent there, the roster still is a long way from being championship caliber.

The Heat will be able to extend a maximum offer to a free agent next summer (Carlos Boozer often is mentioned as the prime candidate, although that might create a new logjam at the 4 spot) if they decide not to trade Marion and allow his $17.8 million contract to come off their cap. But the Heat will not have a first-round pick in 2009 (they traded it to Minnesota in last year's ill-fated Ricky Davis deal). And there's an argument to be made that their best chance of eclipsing 40 victories and becoming a playoff team this season would be to keep Marion, trade Haslem (two years remaining at $6.5 million and $7.1 million) for a point guard and do everything humanly possible to reach the seventh spot or better in the East, rolling the dice that they can match up in the playoffs with any team in the conference other than the Celtics.

Then again, this is a 15-win team we're talking about here, so discussing the playoffs might be a stretch. But Wade was operating at far from 100 percent last season as he came back from shoulder and knee surgeries, playing only 51 games for the second consecutive season, and he showed during the summer, with his steady and often spectacular play for the U.S. Olympic team, that he still has the skills that once prompted Riley to call him the best player in the NBA.

"We're building this thing back, and this is an exciting time for the Miami Heat; it feels a little like '03-04," Spoelstra said. "We still feel we have the best ownership; Pat Riley is still leading the franchise; it's a desirable city; there are great cornerstone pieces in Dwyane Wade, Udonis and Shawn Marion; we got great draft picks, Beasley and Chalmers; and I see excitement as we move forward, step by step, really not looking necessarily for instant gratification, but building a foundation so the Miami Heat will be here and contend like we used to. If our veteran guys can stay healthy, and we can have a productive October, we feel we can be a compelling team."

Is that good enough to make Wade happy?

"We'll see, but it only takes one or two pieces to change everything as long as you're building it the right way," Spoelstra said.

And if Wade's prediction is to be believed, there's more than just one or two years to get those one or two extra key pieces.

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here.