In a mild surprise, the Heat’s star wing will leave two years and $41 million on the table to become a free agent.
Dwyane Wade has exercised the early termination clause in his contract, becoming a free agent alongside LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.
Wade was slated to make $41 million over the next two years, but elected to become a free agent even though his game is in clear decline. The hope is that he can sign a long-term contract, presumably at a lower annual figure.
Wade only played in 54 regular-season games in 2013-14, battling through various injuries and getting rest throughout the campaign. The former Marquette star averaged 19 points per game, the lowest number since Wade’s rookie season in 2003-04 when he scored 16.2 points per night. Wade’s rebounding was also down to to 4.5, his lowest since 2007-08.
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In the NBA Finals, Wade suffered through a nightmare of a series. He averaged 15 points per game and shot just 7-of-25 over the last two games.
Wade’s departure opens up a huge chunk of Miami’s salary cap. With a $20.1 million salary for 2014-15 and a $21.6 million option for 2015-16 off the books, the Heat have ample room to bring back both James and Wade, perhaps at a much lower cap figure.
By opening up money, general manager Pat Riley can add better depth and role players after being demolished by the San Antonio Spurs. Should Chris Bosh also opt out and forfeit his $20.6 million number, Miami suddenly has the most cap space in the NBA.
Wade will turn 33 years old in January and is likely looking for his last substantial contract.