Monday, August 31, 2009 Updated: September 14, 3:32 PM ET
Summer Forecast: Where will Wade be?
By Royce Webb ESPN.com
The Miami Heat franchise and its fans would be devastated if D-Wade were to skip town next summer.
The Dwyane Wade saga is coming to resemble that of his pal LeBron James.
Like LeBron, Wade went early in the 2003 draft, joined a losing team and turned it around in a hurry with MVP-level play. Like LeBron, Wade signed a shorter-than-expected, four-year extension that began in 2007 with a 2010 opt-out. And like LeBron, Wade has rebuffed all efforts by his current team to agree on a new extension this summer.
And according to our panel, that's not where the similarities stop:
Miami (35 votes)
Just as the majority of our panel expects James to stay in Cleveland, 67.3 percent of our voters see Wade remaining with his current team, the Miami Heat.
Although Wade has expressed some frustration about the Heat's shifting fortunes and methodical rebuilding process since their shocking, scintillating title win in 2006, he also has said repeatedly that he sees a long-term future for himself in Miami -- while occasionally also leaving the door open for his departure.
So why would a third of our panel see Wade walking? Well, right now the Miami roster needs a lot of work, and Wade's potential sidekick, Michael Beasley, has some well-documented personal challenges to overcome. If Heat honcho Pat Riley is unable to create a contending team or convince Wade that he can bring in the kind of talent that his star guard expects, Flash might find the grass greener elsewhere.
But he won't find more greenbacks -- Miami can offer him millions more than any other team next summer. And as John Hollinger and Chad Ford recently documented, the Heat also are very well-positioned to make the NBA's biggest moves in 2010.
All in all, it likely adds up to a nervous season followed by a big sigh of relief along South Beach.
Chicago (8 votes)
The Bron-Wade parallels take a twist when looking at the hometown hero factor.
Although LeBron gets to play near his home city of Akron, D-Wade is about 1,200 miles from home. Meanwhile, the Bulls have been canny in creating 2010 cap space, opening the door for Wade to make a hero's return, somewhat like MJ in 1995. And in Derrick Rose, Chicago could finally provide Wade with the kind of dynamic young point guard he has never had before.
But although everyone has speculated on his future, Wade himself hasn't said much about going back home, and anyone who has survived a Chicago winter has a clue why. Also, as many folks could tell you, going home isn't always as comfortable as keeping your distance.
And don't overlook this fact: The Bulls can't pay Wade nearly as much as Miami can.
All in all, only 15.3 percent of our panelists see Wade blowing off Miami and returning to the Windy City.
New York (6 votes)
The LeBron parallels resume with the forecast by six panelists who think Wade will end up in New York, either alongside LBJ (one vote) or without him (five votes).
Although the Knicks might be focused on James, Job No. 1 in New York is to clear cap space, and Wade, while three years older than LeBron, would be a heck of a consolation prize.
As covered in describing the LeBron scenarios, New York can't be counted out, for many of the same reasons.
Also receiving votes: New Jersey (2), Houston (1)
Royce Webb is an NBA editor for ESPN.com.
Click below to see our forecast on other top potential 2010 free agents.
Henry Abbott (ESPN.com TrueHoop senior writer), J.A. Adande (ESPN.com senior writer), Kevin Arnovitz (ESPN.com TrueHoop Network editor), Andrew Ayres (ESPN.com NBA editor), Jon Barry (ESPN NBA analyst), Bruce Bernstein (ESPN NBA Studio Production), Alfredo Berrios (ESPN Deportes editor), Dwayne Bray (ESPN Studio Production), Jordan Brenner (ESPN Insider editor), Lisa Brooks (ESPN Stats & Information), Maurice Brooks (ESPN.com NBA editor), Chris Broussard (ESPN The Magazine senior writer), Ric Bucher (ESPN The Magazine senior writer), Michael Bucklin (ESPN Interactive Games), Kevin Calabro (ESPN NBA broadcaster), Kevin Conlon (ESPN Stats & Information), Jay Corbin (ESPN The Magazine editor), Chad Ford (ESPN Insider senior writer), LZ Granderson (ESPN The Magazine senior writer), John Hollinger (ESPN Insider senior writer), Jade Hoye (ESPN Multimedia), Michael Jackson (ESPN Stats & Information), Scoop Jackson (ESPN Page 2 columnist), Avery Johnson (ESPN NBA analyst), Eric Karabell (ESPN.com senior writer), Rob King (ESPN.com editor-in-chief), Seth Landman (ESPN Fantasy basketball writer), Tim Legler (ESPN NBA analyst), Nancy Lieberman (ESPN NBA analyst), Keith Lipscomb (ESPN Fantasy basketball analyst), Patricia Lowry (ESPN NBA Event Production), Mike Lynch (ESPN Stats & Information), Eric Neel (ESPN.com senior writer), Pete Newmann (ESPN Stats & Information), Chris Palmer (ESPN The Magazine NBA writer), Greg Pike (ESPN NBA Studio Production), Chris Ramsay (ESPN.com NBA coordinator), Dr. Jack Ramsay (ESPN NBA analyst), Adam Reisinger (ESPN DB editor), Bob Salmi (ESPN NBA analyst), Chris Sheridan (ESPN Insider senior writer), Marc Stein (ESPN.com NBA senior writer), Patrick Stiegman (ESPN.com VP/Executive editor), Otto Strong (ESPN The Magazine NBA editor), Mark Summer (ESPN NBA Studio Production), David Thorpe (ESPN Insider NBA analyst), Justin Verrier (ESPN.com NBA editor), Bill Walton (ESPN NBA analyst), Royce Webb (ESPN.com NBA editor), Josh Whitling (ESPN Fantasy Basketball writer), Matt Winer (ESPN NBA anchor) and Matt Wong (ESPN.com NBA editor).