Dwyane Wade's final chapter begins

When Wade discussed handing full control of the Heat to James in 2012, he spoke plenty about the difficulty of it.

"You've got to be able to talk to your ego and see if your ego is OK with that," he told ESPN.com in 2012. "We all have egos."

There were times over the past couple seasons when Wade lamented not having more opportunities in the offense. But assuming he re-signs with Miami, Wade will once again assume the role as the team's primary scorer and playmaker.

The question is, will Wade's body and his game allow him to pick up anywhere near where he left off in 2010, before he was ever a teammate of James? Can he age gracefully and effectively, like a Kobe Bryant, or will father time shove him off a cliff, more like Allen Iverson experienced?

If you've listened to Wade over the years, he's OK with the idea of reinvention. But that doesn't include just shooting a bunch of jumpers and abandoning the part of his game that made him great.

"When I walk away from the game, I want to walk away playing the game that I want to play," Wade told me last season. "I think every year you make minor adjustments. But it's in my DNA, my attack nature is just in me.

"I could shoot three jump shots in a row, or I can take a couple 3s, but I'm an attacker. When I can't attack anymore and I'm just not doing it, then that's when I've got to give it up."

We know Bosh still has faith in Wade, not only because he agreed to return to Miami, but because Bosh said during the Heat's most recent playoff run that Wade was a 32-year-old in his prime. That may be a bit of a stretch, but Wade will certainly be a 32-year-old with prime responsibilities again.

However much Wade has left, his competitive instincts will drive him next season, because being just another playoff team in the East won't sit well. He now also has the added motivation of being left behind by LeBron. Despite the kind words Wade articulated in that statement, it has to bother him that he gave up significant money to continue his time with James, only to be informed late in the process that LeBron's loyalty to Northeast Ohio would end their run after just four seasons together.

The Heat will restock in the coming weeks, but no matter who takes the floor with Wade on opening night next fall, next season is a referendum on whether Wade and the growing perception that he's in the twilight of his career.

But if Wade can dredge up any anger from being scorned by LeBron James ( Udonis Haslem can probably help him with that), and if Pat Riley can put some quality pieces in place, and if a leaner Wade can maintain some bounce on two healthy knees, he'll get the chance to write his own ending.

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