As expected, Wade signs shorter contract with Heat

MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade may continue wearing a Miami uniform
through the 2010-11 season, and if all goes according to his plan,
he'll stay with the Heat even longer.

Wade signed a long-awaited contract extension on Wednesday. The
deal is for three seasons, beginning in 2007-08, and has a player
option for a fourth year -- much like the one agreed to earlier
Wednesday by LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The exact value of Wade's contract will not be known until the
next salary cap is set in July 2007, but based on some cap
projections, it could be worth in the $63 million range.

"We tried to figure out what would be best for the Wade family,
the Wade name and actually for the Miami Heat also," Wade said.
"So I'm excited. I got an opportunity once again to sign back with
the Heat, the team that drafted me, and I'm looking forward to a
bright future."

Wade -- the MVP of this year's NBA Finals -- will make $3.84
million next season, when Miami will defend its championship. He'll
make considerably more in 2007-08, when he'll be eligible to earn a
base salary of 25 percent of the league's salary cap.

It was widely reported in recent days that Wade agreed to sign a
five-year extension with the Heat, but no such pact was ever in
place. Instead, this deal gives Wade the chance to secure another
long-term extension before the NBA's current collective bargaining
agreement expires.

"What's best for me and Miami is signing this deal," Wade

There is one obvious drawback; if Wade suffers a major injury,
he does not have that fifth year of guaranteed money.

"I don't play the game worried about injuries," Wade said.
"That's something you cannot control."

Getting Wade -- a 6-foot-4 guard who has blossomed into one of
the league's biggest stars over his first three seasons -- to agree
to an extension was Miami's top offseason priority, according to
Heat coach Pat Riley, and the signing was hardly unexpected.

Both sides entered the process saying they expected the talks to
go smoothly, and Wade insisted many times in recent weeks that he
was confident a deal would be reached.

Now that this one is done, Wade expects another deal with the
Heat to come four years from now, too.

"I'm going to continue to be with the Heat as long as they want
me," Wade said.

Wade said he, James and Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets --
three of the top five picks in the 2003 draft class -- all talked
about their extensions and weighed the differences between taking
the three-year-with-an-option offer as opposed to the straight
five-year pacts they were all eligible to receive.

But Wade insisted that James' deal with Cleveland did not sway
him in his own decision-making process.

"I never got the impression, and they never really pushed in
the negotiations, for Dwyane to accept the longer-term deal," said
Henry Thomas, Wade's agent. "I think Pat was very understanding of
the position that Dwyane took. From a business standpoint, he
understood the interest in Dwyane having flexibility."

Wade averaged 39.3 points on 51 percent shooting in Miami's four
consecutive wins over the Dallas Mavericks last month, capping the
Heat's march to their first league title.

He had career-bests of 27.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.95 steals,
49.5 percent shooting from the field and 78.3 percent from the foul
line this past season for the Heat, while also averaging 6.7
assists. His scoring, rebounding, steals and shooting percentages
have risen each season.

Wade has been in high demand over the last month, with numerous
television appearances and other obligations taking him to New
York, Chicago and Los Angeles. And a trip to Las Vegas looms; he's
expected to report there next week to begin training with the U.S.
basketball team for this summer's world championships.

While acknowledging that there's much going on in his off-court
world, Wade still sounded eager for that camp to begin.

"I'm a basketball player. That's what I do. It'll come back to
me like riding a bicycle," Wade said.