Miami Heat President Pat Riley said Thursday he anticipates 38-year-old forward Udonis Haslem will return to the team and that he will ramp up his efforts to convince guard Dwyane Wade to come back, too.
“I have a real good feeling that UD is going to be back,” Riley told the South Florida Sun Sentinel while making a public appearance Thursday. “There’s not been any announcement on that. It’s just a gut feeling about UD and what he wants to do.”
Riley had said earlier he had hoped to have Wade on board by mid-August. But between his vacation schedule and Wade’s travels, the two haven’t connected, he said.
“I texted him after he got his long-term deal with [Chinese apparel company] Li Ning,” Riley said. “We want him back. He and Udonis, we want ‘em back, but we’re giving ‘em space. We know our young guys and we need to anchor our young team with a veteran presence of the both of them.”
Both players are pondering whether to return for a 16th NBA season.
Should Wade, 36, decide to return, Riley and his staff will have the task of figuring out the financial implications against the salary cap and the league luxury tax. The Heat could sign Wade for a $5.3 million taxpayer mid-level exception or the $2.4 million veteran minimum, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Because of the Heat’s luxury tax standing, should they sign Wade to the $5.3 million deal, he actually would cost the team $14.2 million for the 2018-19 season. If he were to play for the minimum, that would become a $3.8 million expense for the Heat.
“I don’t think this is about negotiating a mid-level or dollars,” Riley said. “It’s about getting Dwyane back. It’s not really about the tax right now. Even though we have a tax situation, we’ll work our way around that.
“All the business aspects of the tax and the cap, that’s all part of the equation, but let’s get the team together.”
Riley said he believes the situation will be settled soon after Labor Day.
He also briefly addressed the contract status of forward Justise Winslow, who at age 22 is entering his fourth NBA season and is eligible for a rookie-scale extension.
“I think there’s some timing issues there,” Riley said. “But we’re committed to Justise. He’s committed to us. And we have until Oct. 15 to make that decision. But we’ve been in constant communication with his agent and with Justise.”
—Field Level Media