The closest example to Wade's potential scenario can be traced to the summer of 2010, when 30-year-old Richard Jefferson opted out of $15 million on the final year of his contract with the Spurs. He then re-signed a four-year, $39 million contract that reduced his 2010-11 salary from $15 million to $8 million. It also helped San Antonio sign Tiago Splitter and reportedly save $17 million in overall salary and potential luxury-tax penalties.
When Wade was told about speculation earlier this season among some league analysts that he might consider retiring after this season if he won his fourth title, he jerked his head back and frowned.
"I'd be a damn fool," Wade shot back. "I'm not retiring no time soon, so if that's what people are waiting on, that's stupid."
When then reminded that he earned just $3 million during the Heat's 2006 championship run when he was Finals MVP, there was a different reaction from Wade, who was one of the league's biggest bargains for so many years.
He smiled and looked away.
As long as he's playing and producing at a high level when it matters most, he'd never comprehend being cast in any scenario as a potential salary burden. Sacrificing part of his salary and a bigger part of his role to bring this Heat team together set the tone for four straight trips to the Finals.
Any plan that disrupts the run from continuing shouldn't be an option.
"Obviously, you don't have to do anything," Wade said. "From the standpoint of us even coming together, it wasn't anything I had to do. It's what I wanted to do. And will never feel like I have to do this. We all think I worked very hard over my career to earn what I've earned and put myself in that position. So I will never feel like I have to take less after this, or have to do this. It's not my job. It's the job of others around to figure out how to make it work. If I want to be a part of that, then I'll be a part of that. But if I don't, I won't. It's simple as that. I don't feel that pressure at all."
No pressure, just freedom of body and mind.