Wade has until Monday to decide whether he wants to opt out of the final season of his contract or accept the $16.1 million he's due to earn during the 2015-16 season. The Heat and Wade have privately been at odds over the framework of a potential new deal, should Wade opt out of his contract.
But speaking on the Wade situation for the first time since reports of potential friction between the two sides surfaced last month, Riley said he hopes to reach a deal that keeps Wade in Miami for the rest of his career. Wade has spent all 12 seasons of his NBA career with the Heat since he was drafted in 2003.
"We want Dwyane back. There's no doubt about that," Riley said late Thursday night after the Heat completed their draft selections. "He's been here 12 years. We've had cordial discussions with him. The one thing I learned about free agency is that when a player has an opportunity to be a free agent, I think you give him the space and time to think about that."
Wade, 33, has declined interview requests about his future but said during an ESPN on ABC broadcast appearance at the NBA Finals that he would deal with his future after the July 1 start of free agency. Those comments seemed to indicate that Wade is planning to opt out of his deal. There also has been reported interest between Wade and potential free-agency suitors such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons.
Although Wade is believed to be seeking a three-year deal worth at least $45 million if he opts out, the Heat want to convince him to allow the team enough financial flexibility to pursue top free agents next summer, when Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant could be on the market. But Riley also acknowledged Thursday that Wade has sacrificed as much as any player in franchise history to help the team.
Last summer, Wade opted out of the final two years and $41 million on his contract to help the Heat rebuild after LeBron James also opted out and then surprisingly left the team in free agency. Wade re-signed on a two-year deal worth about $33 million that included a player option for the second year. During the summer of 2010, Wade accepted slightly less than a maximum contract to help the team add role players after it acquired James and Chris Bosh in free agency.
"Everybody in this organization over the years has had to sacrifice," Riley said. "The one player [as much as anyone] that's had to sacrifice for the sake of winning has been him. This is now getting down to business. We respect him. We want him back. We want him here for the rest of his career. And we're going to try to do everything to make that happen."
The Heat also are expecting a quick decision from point guard Goran Dragic, who informed to the Heat this week he was opting of the final year of his contract, once free agency starts. Dragic, acquired in February from the Phoenix Suns for two future first-round picks, could command a contract from the Heat worth as much as $110 million over five years. An outside team could offer Dragic only a four-year deal. Heat forward Luol Deng must also decide by Monday whether he will enter free agency or return next season for the final year and $10.2 million on his contract.
The Heat's goal is to enter next season with a core of Dragic, Wade, Bosh and promising center Hassan Whiteside. Riley said the decision to select Duke's Justise Winslow with the No. 10 pick in the draft was designed to boost the team's depth, not to replace either Wade or Deng on the perimeter.
A year after enduring James' departure in free agency, Riley was asked whether he could envision a scenario in which Wade would walk away from the team he helped lead to three NBA titles.
"I'm not a pessimist when it comes to that," Riley said. "We have a lot to offer here with all of our free agents -- with Dwyane, with Goran, with [Deng]. Whatever I think today is really irrelevant. I want all of them to come back. I'd like to make a deal with all of these players and keep the team we built last year. We'll find out on July 1. Before that, it really is all speculation. Everybody should just chill a little bit and wait until July 1."