Coming off his second NBA title, Dwyane Wade may take the summer off to rest and skip the Olympics. He will have an MRI on his knee in the next few days to determine whether or not he needs surgery. If Wade has to have surgery, it would help people forget that he recently said that Olympic players should be paid. That’s not going to happen this time. With Wade’s health, can USA Basketball make the 2012 Olympics worth his time, no matter how much they might be willing to pay?
While Wade has softened on his pay-for-Olympic-play stance, he has a legitimate gripe. Wade, along with the rest of players on Team USA, is a professional basketball player. While most Olympic competitors are amateurs participating in sports they will probably never get rich playing, the Olympic basketball team is a goldmine full of millionaires. Their time is worth money. Lots of it.
Wade made $15,512,000 this season. According to Hoops Hype, he’s due to make $17,024,000 in 2012-2013 and $18,536,000 in ’13-’14. Then he has a player option for $20,048,000 in ’14-’15 and $21,560,000 in the final year of his contract. If he stays with Miami, Wade is due another $77,168,000 on this contract, an average of $19,292,000 a season.
The USA Olympic basketball team starts training on July 5 and the Olympics run through August 12. A little more than a month. So 1/12th of his average salary ($1,607,667) seems fair. You can bump that up to an even $2 million … I’m assuming Team USA doesn’t pay for transportation or meals.
For someone coming off an injury-free season, that seems fair. That’s not nearly enough to get somebody in Wade’s physical condition to give up a major part of his summer. Wade has been battling injuries since… forever. Do you remember the last time Dwyane Wade was healthy? I don’t. Dwyane Wade’s frail body has been a punchline longer than LeBron’s hairline. From USA Today:
“I’ve got to make a decision on what my knee needs and what’s best, because my career and finishing my career strong is what’s important to me,” Wade said. “And I know, yeah, the Olympics are coming up. It’s something I really want to do. But at the same time, if I have to make a big decision, if something has to happen surgery-wise, that will have to be a step I have to take. My loyalty and my commitment to Miami Heat basketball is the No. 1 thing.”
By playing in the Olympics and giving up a much needed chance for his body to heal, Wade is putting his entire career in jeopardy. I’m not saying taking a beating on an international level is going to make Wade retire next season or get cut by Miami before his contract runs out. It could however shorten his career and affect his ability to get another moderately large payday when his contract runs out in 2016.
Wade will be 34 at the end of his current deal. At that age, Wade should be well into the cagey veteran portion of his career. Another five years playing the way he does and there may be nothing left of him. Wade’s game relies on his athleticism. This whole discussion is interesting because what later-career player would Wade most resemble?
Michael Jordan hung it up and came back and was a shadow of his former self, but it’s not like his body was breaking down. Jordan was always reinventing his game. Larry Bird’s body famously broke down. Can Wade keep it up for another five years? He’s not a knockdown shooter who can gracefully become a role player. He doesn’t even have Kobe’s jumper. He’s more of a bigger Allen Iverson, no? I guess the question is, what would Gregg Popovich do with a 34-year-old Dwyane Wade?
While almost all the guys on the 2012 roster of probables have a lot more money to make through the rest of their careers, they’re all at the point where they can still play through a summer and not have it take years off their career. The only guy in a similar situation is Kobe Bryant (2 years remaining at $28.5 million and $30.4 million), but Kobe doesn’t care about resting or getting healthy. He’s like David in Prometheus – even if you cut of his head, he’s still convinced he can perform and do things no one else can.
LeBron, KD, Russell Westbrook and the other guys are still at the point in their careers where they’re fairly indestructible. (*knocks on all the wood*) They can rest a year from now. Dwyane Wade likely needs rest right now. LeBron is in the middle of his championship window, but Dwyane Wade only has another couple years to fit through that window with his friend in his current role.
There is really no right answer to any of these questions, which is amazing since I’ve spent over 800 words on this subject. That doesn’t mean Wade shouldn’t be asking them though. Rest now could extend his career. Playing this summer could be at the expense of a lot of money down the road. Simple math says that Wade’s summer is probably worth around $2 million in a vacuum. Forbes already made the case that NBA players get paid for the Olympics, but Wade’s ability to earn shoe money will be greatly hurt when his career ends – Olympics or not.
What does a 34-year-old Dwyane Wade command on the open market in 2016? Depending on his health, $10 million a year? What would he be worth to the Bobcats as the guy who could finally get Anthony Davis that ring? $20 million for two years? No one knows. That’s why you can’t put a price on Wade’s involvement in the 2012 Olympics. Those are all the reasons Wade shouldn’t go to London this summer. The only reason Wade should go? It’s the Olympics, man. Represent your country.
[US PRESSWIRE, USA Today, Hoops Hype, Forbes]