Dwyane Wade is starting an important offseason, one in which he must balance recovery from more knee issues and Pat Riley's challenge to drop weight and develop his game.
To do so, he has rehired famed trainer Tim Grover and will work with him for six weeks leading up to the Miami Heat's training camp for the 2013-14 season.
Wade has vowed that he will return a different player than he was at the end of last season, when he was limited by bone bruises and tendinitis in his knees. The 31-year-old guard averaged 21.2 points per game during the regular season, but just 15.9 PPG in the playoffs.
So to return to form, Wade has reached back into his past and out to Grover, whom he has worked with many times before but not for the past few summers.
"I don't train my clients to be good as new, I want them to be better than ever," Grover said about working with Wade again. "That's the goal for Dwyane."
Riley, the Heat president, said he is hoping for Wade to get down to 212 pounds, the weight he was when he came into the NBA, next season to reduce the strain on his knees and get some mobility back. Wade is listed at 220 pounds on the official roster but may have carried more than that over the past few seasons.
"He’s going to get down to 212 pounds next year and he’s going to come back and reinvent himself and everyone is going to say 'Wow,'" Riley said at the end of the NBA Finals on Dan Le Batard’s radio show.
Wade started working with Grover before the 2003 draft, and his impressive workouts with him helped Wade soar up draft board. Grover, who became well-known for his work with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, also helped Wade recover after missing the last 21 games of the 2007-08 season following OssaTron shockwave therapy on his knee. Wade then worked out with Grover intensely for two months and went on to star in the Beijing Olympics and then have the best season of his career, averaging 30.2 points per game.
When Wade struggled with knee issues during the 2012 Finals, he called in Grover for some emergency work. In his recently released book "Relentless," Grover wrote: “With the series tied 1-1, I flew to Miami. It was obvious Dwyane’s knee would require surgery after the season; we couldn't slap a quick solution on that. I told him I'd do what I could to make him feel stronger and more explosive for the next few days."
After several midnight rehab sessions with Grover, Wade scored 25 points in both Games 3 and 4 as the Heat took control against the Oklahoma City Thunder and ultimately won the 2012 title.
Now the duo is back together as Wade enters a crucial point in his career.
Wade has two years and $41 million left on his deal after the 2013-14 season. But Wade, like LeBron James and Chris Bosh, has an opt-out clause he can use to sign a longer-term deal that could carry him to the end of his career, virtually making this upcoming season a contract year.
And it's not just the knee injuries he and the Heat have to worry about. Wade blamed his postseason struggles on bone bruises, but the tendinitis is a bigger concern long term, especially for a player who has logged as many minutes. Wade will turn 32 in January, but he has already totaled almost 30,000 minutes of playing time between the regular season and the playoffs over the past 10 years, in addition to numerous summers playing for the national team.
Which is why, after taking the last month off following another round of OssaTron treatments, Wade is back working out with Grover in Miami as of last week.
"I don’t worry about it because I've dealt with so many different injuries since I was young and I've always bounced back," Wade said. "I've seen it work with my body before; I’m confident it will. My skills haven’t diminished. I’m not done yet."