Here’s a really startling, ominous sentence:
The deal, which is before taxes, would make Wade the highest-paid player in China, slightly ahead of Andray Blatche, who plays for Xinjiang in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Dwyane Wade reportedly received a $25 million, three-year offer to spend the next chapter of his basketball career playing in China. There was a time in NBA history where a fading and nearly washed star like Wade would’ve had opportunities to be overpaid by teams making expensive runs to the bottom of a conference playoff pack. But draft incentives and the current salary cap landscape have combined to wipe out the middle ground between rebuilding and contending—nowadays it’s considered bad business to spend money on incremental improvements that fall short of pushing a team towards the top of the league. There’s no longer much prestige to be found, for an otherwise stagnant team, in bringing in a player with Wade’s résumé. The only real opportunities left for Wade are with teams tinkering in the margins, around proven and established cores, and those are few and far between—teams at the top of the league are calibrating themselves for showdowns with the Warriors, and a 36-year-old ball-dominant non-shooter whose defense has been declining rapidly for years is almost definitionally unplayable in that matchup. China may not be his only option, but it will almost certainly be the one that offers the most money and the most security.
This Wade report circulated on the same day as this video, which shows a washed up Carmelo Anthony, a useless Brandon Jennings, and a deeply disappointing Stanley Johnson doing ferocious and cool basketball shit in a series of one-on-one possessions:
It’s a pretty vivid reminder that even ho-hum NBA players—and Wade is very much a ho-hum NBA player at this stage of his career—are still impossibly good at basketball. It’s not that he’s suddenly bad at basketball—he was doing heroic shit on an NBA floor while playing important rotation minutes in the playoffs against the Sixers just last season. But the league is incredibly crunched for cap space, and the game has evolved enormously in the second half of Wade’s career, and being good at basketball is only part of the equation when considering a player of his age and abilities. There’s a reason Wade is still a free agent today, and a Chinese team is offering him this deal, and we all know about it.
Wade was contemplating retirement following Miami’s playoff loss to the Sixers in April. He recently signed a lifetime endorsement deal with a Chinese apparel company. Maybe he should spend a little time playing in China! Either way, it’s another weird quirk of this strange universe that Dwyane Wade’s value to a basketball team, anywhere on Earth, is only “slightly ahead” of that of Andray fucking Blatche.