Retirement can wait at least one more year for Dwyane Wade.
Wade is coming back to the Miami Heat, announcing Sunday that he will return for a 16th and final N.B.A. season. He spent much of the last four months weighing his options, and retirement was a real possibility in his mind.
Instead, he’ll be back in Miami, as the Heat had desperately hoped. He is expected to sign a $2.4 million, one-year deal later this week.
“I’ve always did things my way,” an emotional Wade said in a video that he taped Sunday afternoon and released in the evening on social media. “Whether they’ve been good or whether they’ve been bad, I got here because I’ve done things the way that I feel is right for me and right for my family.”
He added: “I feel it’s right to ask you guys to join me for one last dance, for one last season.”
Wade is Miami’s career leader in points, assists, steals and games played. His status was an enormous question mark this summer, and had become even more pressing with the team a week away from going to training camp. Miami has signed 19 players for camp, one shy of the maximum preseason allotment, and it was never a question why that last spot was kept open.
It was hardly a guarantee that Wade, who has averaged 22.5 points a game over his career, would return.
His decision took months longer than some expected, partly because he was deciding what he wanted to do, partly because he was dealing with some personal business and some family business, and partly because it took him and the Heat some time to figure out what made sense for both sides.
Wade’s return means that Miami will have essentially the same team this coming season as it had last season, when it went 44-38 and claimed the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
This time, though, the Heat will have Wade from the season’s outset.
Wade returned to the Heat in a trade last February, after spending the 2016-17 season with Chicago and the start of last season with Cleveland. He appeared in 26 games with Miami last season including in the playoffs, all off the bench, and averaged 12.9 points.
The plan going into this season will be to keep Wade in that reserve role, probably using him somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes per game. While he most likely won’t be starting games, it’s fairly certain that he’ll be finishing them — Coach Erik Spoelstra utilized Wade as a closer down the stretch of contests last season, and the role is one where Wade still flourishes.
Wade could have gotten a deal elsewhere, though moving to another team again was never a consideration for him this time around. He said repeatedly over the last several months that he would play with the Heat or nowhere, in large part because of family commitments — such as his son Zaire’s being a popular prospect about to go into his junior year of high school.
Wade spent much of the summer following him around the country and watching him play various tournaments, plus working out with him at times.
Wade also signed a lifetime contract this summer with the Chinese apparel company Li-Ning, a brand he has endorsed for the last several years. That seemed to be the first real indicator that he was leaning toward returning for a 16th season, and another hint came in late July when he posted a video on social media of him playing a pickup game with his son and making a reference to “Year 16.”
From there, it simply became a matter of Wade making up his mind.
“Let’s enjoy it,” Wade said. “Let’s have some joy through this last season. Let’s push this young team over the hump and let’s write our own story to the end of this career, together.”