By J.A. Adande
As the July 1 opening of the NBA's free-agent shopping spree draws near, Dwyane Wade says he will start off by looking for the best player to join him with the Miami Heat, rather than searching for the franchise where he would best fit.
"It's going to be fit with me first," Wade said. "I've made that very clear. Do I want to leave? Nope. Mmm-hmm. I want to be in Miami. That's where it starts."
Wade attended Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Boston with his two sons, because at ages 8 and 3 they have no memories of their father's run to the championship with the Heat in 2006 -- and because the recollections are beginning to get hazy for Wade himself after failing to get past the first round of the playoffs in the past four seasons.
While he has said he will talk to other players and got the NBA world buzzing with his concept of a "free-agent summit" he said, "I don't do recruiting. Not now, anyway."
"I don't look at it as recruiting. I'll gauge and see if guys want to be [in Miami], who wants to be with me.
"It's about who can come to Miami, it's about who do you trust, who can fit the organization, who best fits you as a player, things of that nature."
Wade told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Saturday he talked with Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh and Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson in Los Angeles this past week.
Wade told the newspaper he had dinner with Bosh and saw Johnson at a Brand Jordan event.
"My friends are the guys that are in the league," Wade told the Sun-Sentinel. "Some of my closest friends in the NBA happen to be certain guys that are up in this free-agent market. Yeah, it's going to be like that. Like I said, I don't worry about it. I smile and I keep on going with my day.
"Me and Chris have been friends since we came into the NBA. We signed with the same agent. So we can't eat together? It's all good. We understand what's going to come about from anything that goes on. But, no worries, it's just friends eating dinner."
The Heat have one edge in the free-agent marketplace: they have Wade in house and can give him a larger contract than any other team, and they have the salary cap space to offer a maximum contract to an additional free agent.
So does Wade believe he will end up in Miami?
"I hope so," Wade said.
As for Cleveland's LeBron James, Wade said, "I have no idea. I don't know about anyone else."
He said James is "his own man. He's going to decide for himself. Everyone has their thoughts of what's going to happen. No one knows. I don't even think LeBron knows."
When the free-agency period begins, Wade, Bosh, Johnson, James and Amare Stoudemire are among players who could be changing teams.