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NBA Rumors: Heat want Dwyane Wade to opt-in so they can target Kevin Durant in 2016

Billy Donovan: It's About the Players, Not Me


Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat are still in the middle of a contract dispute that doesn't seem likely to end anytime soon. As it turns out, the Heat's desire to pursue another superstar in free agency next summer may be at the heart of why the two parties can't come to terms right now.

According to a report from Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald, the Heat's master plan is to re-sign Goran Dragic this summer, re-sign Hassan Whiteside in 2016, and then have the cap-flexibility to go after Kevin Durant in free agency next summer.

Going into the reasons why the Heat would want to pursue Durant is hardly necessary. Despite missing much of the 2014-15 season with a foot injury, he's still one of the top three players in the league. Any team with a realistic shot of signing him next offseason needs zero justification for trying to do so.

The Heat's possible pursuit of Durant, and how it relates to Wade, is where things get complicated.

The crux of the issue between Wade and the Heat right now is that the superstar wants to opt-out from the second year of his two-year contract and, in turn, sign a new three-year deal. This comes one season after he inked a two-year deal with plans of testing the market in 2016 (when the salary cap is expected to increase dramatically). Wade is now said to prefer long-term security as opposed to gambling on a bigger contract next summer.

However, the Heat are urging Wade to opt-in to his current deal because of the financial flexibility it will give them in 2016. Wade will be off the books when that free agency period begins, thus affording Miami the ability to throw more money at Durant. If Wade opts out and signs a new deal this summer, the team's flexibility, as well as its entire reported master plan, is thrown out of whack.

As Le Batard points out, the next month before Wade must decide what to do with his player option is truly going to test how loyal that he is to the Heat. He has spent his entire career with the organization and has become engrained in the fabric of both the franchise and the community. If he wants that image to be maintained, possibly fouling up the front office's master plan by opting out this summer isn't going to help things.

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