In the NBA world, nothing was ever certain except Dirk Nowitzki playing for no franchise except the Dallas Mavericks, Kevin Durant playing for no franchise except the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Dwyane Wade playing for no franchise except the Miami Heat.
Well, as we now know, the more things change, they change.
Yes, Nowitzki held to his season-long commitment and will sign a two-year, $40 million contract on Thursday to return to the Mavericks for his 19th season.
But over the span of the past three days, Durant stunned the basketball world and left OKC for Golden State after spending his entire nine-year career with the Thunder franchise. And if you weren’t already floored by that move, Wade knocked you off your rocker Wednesday night when he agreed to leave the Heat to sign with the Chicago Bulls.
Wade had spent his entire 13-year career with Miami and was the Heat’s franchise player and a very popular player at that. Not only did Wade lead the Heat to three world titles, he set the tables up for Miami to win the last two when he successfully recruited LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join him in Miami in 2010.
I’m pretty sure no matter what financial numbers Heat president Pat Riley threw at Wade, he probably never envisioned Wade deciding to walk away and deciding to play for another team.
But Riley obviously took Wade for granted one time too many.
The Mavericks knew Nowitzki wasn’t leaving Dallas, although they never took it for granted that they could disrespect him by low-balling him on a free agent contract.
The Thunder probably weren’t totally surprised that Durant would pack his sneakers and go to the Bay Area, where his new All-Star teammates -- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – will likely get him a championship ring as soon as next season.
Leaving the Heat?
Are you kidding me?
When pigs fly.
I guess pigs are flying.
I’m sure the fact that he’s never been the highest paid player on his team bothered Wade. And he probably was tired a taking pay cut and helping out a billionaire like owner Micky Arison, who probably have some extra coins in his pocket since he also is the chairman of Carnival Corporation, aka Carnival Cruise Lines.
Wade took a pay cut to help bring LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the Heat. And he took a pay cut to help the Heat sign Goran Dragic.
This time, Wade didn’t want to take another pay cut. To paraphrase singer Rihanna, he wanted the Heat to have his money.
For what he’s given this organization for 13 years, the Heat threw what Wade thought was a lowball offer at him – two years and $40 million. Maybe they thought Wade was just bluffing, would come to his senses and take that lowball offer.
Wade always, always, always took the lowball offer. That’s his M.O. – Mr. Lowball.
But those days are obviously over, as Wade agreed to a two-year, $47.5 million deal with the Bulls.
In other words, it only took an additional $7.5 million for the Bulls to pry Wade away from the Heat. No more Mr. Lowball.
So now, the most popular pro athlete in the history of the city of Miami is now playing for the Chicago Bulls. And it only took $7.5 million – chump change by NBA standards -- for that to happen.
Let that sink in for a minute.
And Wade left Miami when there was no time – or prime-time players left -- for the Heat to run out and get someone else to pair with Hassan Whiteside and Dragic.
To put it bluntly, the Heat sort of find themselves in the same spot the Mavericks were in last season when DeAndre Jordan told the Mavericks he was coming to Dallas. But while Jordan refused to let the Mavericks know he had changed his mind, other big-name free agents decided on their destinations, and Jordan eventually re-signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, leaving the Mavs left to pick from the NBA leftovers.
With Wade departing at the 11th hour, that’s what’s left for the Heat. NBA leftovers.
Good luck with that.
Then again, other NBA owners should take notice and stop taking these players for granted. Stop treating them like you can lowball them whenever you want to, and get away with it.
With free agency, the players are wielding the power. And they’re leaving your franchise and leaving you with the job of trying to explain to your fans exactly what happened.