Dwyane Wade had already decided that if he were to stay with the Miami Heat, he would have either LeBron James or Chris Bosh as a teammate.
He got Bosh.
He might get both, too.
Ending months of speculation, Wade and Bosh made their decisions official on Wednesday, saying their trip through the world of NBA free agency would end in Miami. Wade is staying, Bosh is coming, and now they’re waiting — like the rest of the league — to see what LeBron James will do Thursday night when he unveils his plans in a special to be televised on ESPN.
"I’m so glad it’s over," Wade said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I had to do what was best for me. And I know I did that."
Wade does not know what the terms of the next contract he’ll sign with Miami will be, nor when he’ll sign the paper. Bosh doesn’t have terms of his next deal done either. It’s all contingent on what James says Thursday night, and Wade insisted he knows nothing about what the two-time MVP will say or where he’ll be saying it from.
"I won’t speak to him again until he makes his decision," Wade said in the AP interview. "And when it’s over, I will congratulate him. But I will be watching."
Either way, Wade is already thrilled with how free agency played out.
He, James and Bosh were the three kingpins of this long-hyped market, a trio of All-Stars who came into the league together seven years ago and structured their last contracts just to hit the open market together this summer, the last under the current terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
They’ve talked often about playing together.
Now, the ball is clearly in King James’ court.
"I expect us to compete for a championship," Bosh told ESPN. "I think both Dwyane and I, we both wanted an opportunity where right away we would be competing. … We’re ready to sacrifice a lot of things in order to do that. It’s not about the money. It’s not about anything else except for winning. I’m a winner. Dwyane’s a winner. We’re going to bring winning to Miami."
The Raptors do have several sign-and-trade options from teams interested in acquiring Bosh, who averaged career-bests of 24.0 points and 10.8 rebounds last season for Toronto.
Miami came into the free-agent period with around $44 million of cap space, not including $16 million or so earmarked for Wade, thanks to years of avoiding just about any deal where money would have been committed for the 2010-11 season.
"We want to build a dynasty," Heat president Pat Riley had told fans entering free agency.
Bosh and Wade would be a pretty good start.
The expectation around the Heat for months — for years, really — was that Wade would have a flirtation with free agency, then return to Miami for a six-year contract that could have been worth around $125 million, maybe a bit more or less depending on what the salary cap number for the coming 2010-11 season is.
The 2006 NBA finals MVP fed that assumption, saying countless times that he wanted to stay in Miami if the roster were upgraded to a championship-contending level. That rather ambiguous caveat took a more exact shape in recent days, and the Heat were clearly on edge when Wade took two meetings with the Chicago Bulls, his hometown team.
Days later, Wade will be apparently able to say he got what he wanted all along.
"It’s over," Wade said in the AP interview. "It’s not all over-over, but for me, it’s over."