By Chris Sheridan
These were among Dwyane Wade's parting words, and they were bold ones, after the Miami Heat were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their first-round series Tuesday night:
"This will be my last first-round exit for a while, I'll tell you that."
Bold indeed, but most significant was the fact that Wade did not give any hint that he expects to advance to the second round or beyond with any team other than his current one, the Miami Heat.
"I can't predict the future. It's going to be a very important summer, it's going to be a busy summer, but right now I have to get this out of my system first," Wade said. "I'm a good sportsman but I don't take losing well, so it's going to take a while to get over this, and then start pondering my future."
As has been well-documented, Wade plans to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer when the free agent class shapes up as the strongest and deepest in NBA history.
But Wade has also made it clear that his preference is to remain with the Heat, who currently expect to have about $24 million in cap room (and could have more if they can clear Michael Beasley, James Jones and Daequan Cook from their cap, a possibility I alluded to in Monday's chat in suggesting Minnesota or New Jersey -- apologies for omitting Sacramento -- as teams with cap space who may find it advantageous to use their room to acquire talent from Miami in what would be a lopsided trade, salary-wise.)
Beasley, it should be pointed out, was benched for the entire second half of Game 5.
"I'm looking forward to a good team to build, and being with some great players next year, and to continue to beef up our roster," Wade said.
Notice his use of the pronoun "our."
And also note that at no point did Wade ever expressly state a desire to head elsewhere. But he did place the onus on Pat Riley to make things happen over the summer.
"I'm not putting no pressure on myself. I think I put myself in a great situation three years ago to sign this deal to make sure that my team stays competitive. We've got some work to do, the front office has to do it, and there's no pressure on me," Wade said. "I've said where my heart is, and I think any player that's thinking about wanting to come to Miami, they know where my heart is. You just have to see things being done and accomplished.
"We see that, and we'll be talking again."