Heat owner says he's confident Wade will stay
While acknowledging Tuesday he was disappointed the Heat couldn't agree to a contract extension this past offseason with their franchise player, Arison quickly added he believes there are signs Wade won't be leaving when he gets the chance next summer.
"I have every indication from Dwyane this is where he wants to be," Arison said. "He loves Miami. He'd like to spend his whole career (here). But the reality is, I don't have a signature on a contract. Obviously, we talked about an extension this summer. I was disappointed that we couldn't come to an agreement, but that was Dwyane's right. He's worked hard to have his own flexibility.
"He'll make the decision next summer," Arison added. "But obviously, I'm very hopeful. ... And as you know, we can pay him more money than anybody. So financially, it's not going to be an issue."
Wade likely will be one of the headline names in next summer's free-agent class. He has said he likely will exercise his right to be a free agent, but also has insisted he has no designs on leaving Miami - which would be able to pay him around $30 million more than any other team over the life of an extension.
Other highlights of a 20-minute session with Arison included:
-The owner has no concerns that Heat president Pat Riley will soon leave the franchise either, saying "Pat can be here as long as he wants to be here." Arison acknowledged Riley said five years ago that five more years "might be enough," but there are no imminent plans for the Hall of Fame coach to depart.
-He expressed displeasure at what he called "negative press" over Miami's lack of personnel moves this past offseason, saying the trade for Jermaine O'Neal in February (giving up Shawn Marion) was the move of the summer, along with acquiring Quentin Richardson in a trade. He also spoke highly of Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley, Miami's pair of second-year starters and part of the core of the team's future.
"I think we did a lot this summer and I think we got better," Arison said before the Heat's 90-76 victory over the Washington Wizards. "God knows, if we stay healthy, I think we'll be a lot better this year and I think to some degree, we're showing it already."
-Arison confirmed premium-seat and season-ticket sales are suffering, part of the economic downturn that also prompted the franchise to cut some jobs in its business operations side and trim salaries on the basketball operations side, issues that are widespread around the NBA. Some sponsorships, though, have helped more than Arison anticipated, and other fan-friendly initiatives (like a mesh video screen on the outside of the arena) have proven to be helpful to the bottom line as well.
"We've never made money here," Arison said.
-He said while he entertained offers to sell the team a few years back, he does not intend to retire anytime soon and his son, Nicholas, likely will succeed him as owner. There is no timetable for that move, Arison said.