After hearing the news that Dwyane Wade decided to leave the Miami Heat, Pat Riley reportedly texted reporters that he was "so sad." That's verbatim. He may have used a lot more of the letter "D" in his text, but Riley's decision to not increase his contract offer to Wade may be an "A."
Wade will be a Hall of Famer. He is probably the best player in Heat history and is coming off a fantastic and healthy-ish season despite his age. So, why my optimism about Miami's move?
Miami can develop some youth
Losing Wade means more minutes for promising second-year wing Josh Richardson at the 2 and more importantly, more touches for Justise Winslow at the 3. Development requires both minutes and possessions, and now both wings—and even big man Hassan Whiteside—may acquire more possessions as a result.
Don't forget about Dragic
It all seemed relatively hopeless for Miami when Chris Bosh went down to injury last season, but we all forgot about the Dragon. Goran Dragic picked up more possessions in Bosh's absence and was potentially the Heat's most lethal offensive player in the playoffs.
The move forces Miami to get younger
This is something the Heat should've considered more swiftly in a post-LeBron world. If they had retained Wade, they would have at best been in the same position this coming season as they were last season—out in the second round of the playoffs. Yes, that's at best-case scenario. Realistically, after losing Joe Johnson to free agency and with Bosh possibly out for an unforeseen amount of time, they likely would have been a low playoff seed. Remember, seeds 3 through 6 in the East this past season all had the same regular season record (48-34); the Heat won the tiebreakers to get the 3 seed, but had the same record as the 6 seed (Charlotte).
Getting younger is the biggest reason why having Wade bolt is a blessing. Whiteside led the Heat in wins produced and was thankfully retained this offseason. Meanwhile, Winslow could be an Andre Iguodala clone in Miami. The team really needs to just get younger, add a piece who can help improve everyone's development, and—say it with me Sam Hinkie—"build through the draft."
Dragic is probably someone they should look to move more immediately. One idea is to send him to Minnesota for Ricky Rubio. After drafting Kris Dunn, Rubio seems to be expendable for the Timberwolves, and Dragic would be an incredible 6th man for that team. Wolves Coach Tom Thibodeau is looking to make a playoff run this season.
Another idea is sending Dragic to Sacramento in hopes of coaxing the Kings to move a future pick (the 2017 draft should be promising); Ben McLemore; and troubled, but solid point guard Darren Collison.
As it stands, though, Miami is in fine shape. Players will still like the South Beach appeal in free agency. The Heat could net a top-10 pick in the next draft and still have a top-2 center in the league on a reasonable contract.
Right now, they just need to send out feelers for Dragic, build the offense around Winslow, and hope Bosh recovers from his blood clots. Not to throw shade on Wade, but were the Heat really going to even make it out of the first round with him? Be thankful Heat fans, there's nothing worse than riding the proverbial NBA treadmill, which you would have only continued to do with Wade. Riley shouldn't be sad—he should be optimistic. Wade just did South Beach a massive favor.
Edited by Jacob Kamaras