MIAMI – Dwyane Wade has decided he cannot take a year away from basketball.
And if the NBA goes that route, Wade has decided to go somewhere else.
Though he remains cautiously hopeful that a deal between owners and players can be struck to end the lockout and ultimately save the 2011-12 NBA season, Wade told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he will be playing somewhere this winter — whether that's with the Miami Heat, as he'd obviously prefer, or an international club.
"I'm going to play basketball this year," Wade said from New York, where he's taking some business meetings. "I don't know where, but I love the game so much that I will play it. And we will figure that out."
Wade denied receiving any international offers yet, including a widely circulated report of a $2 million-per-month proposal from a Chinese team. He has said throughout the summer that he would review any offers that come his way, a stance he reiterated Tuesday, while noting that he was overwhelmed at times by the support he received from Chinese fans during a nine-day trip to their nation that ended last week.
On Monday, Wade's Heat teammate LeBron James told The AP he's "very optimistic" the season will take place, possibly even on time. Wade and James agree on plenty, but on that point, they differ a bit. Wade has started his offseason workout regimen, just in case, though hardly sounds convinced that the league will get its planned slate of 82 games in starting this fall.
"I understand why LeBron said it," Wade said. "At the end of the day, we are in negotiations. And you know how negotiations work. In the 11th hour, it can look like nothing's going to happen. In the 12th hour, we can have it happen. You have to prepare like we're going to have to be ready for training camp in the first week of October, just like you normally do. So I understand exactly what he meant. I'm not that positive that it might happen."
Wade is not sounding worried about what the coming weeks and months may bring. He's too busy right now to be caught up in speculation, anyway.
In the seven weeks or so following Miami's loss to Dallas in the NBA finals, Wade has been in almost constant motion.
He's been to Europe for fashion shows, China for business meetings with corporate partners Gatorade, Hublot and Nike's Jordan Brand, with friends at Chris Bosh's wedding and other trips. In New York, he posed for seven hours of photos Monday for various projects. There's other shoots for GQ planned, as well as one for his next signature shoe, the Fly Wade 2, which will be released this fall. And in a few days, he'll start 5-on-5 play at Marquette, his old school.
All that's coming with his inaugural fantasy camp in South Florida for about 100 fans starting next week, something he's most excited about.
"Even at not 100 percent, I'll do all right," Wade said. "I'm working into things slowly. Right now I'm taking my time, doing what I do for my body, which might be different than others. When the time comes for fantasy camp, I'll be in a little better shape than I am today and I'll be able to have fun and enjoy the games."
He also enjoyed China, more than perhaps he thought he would.
Wade had been there before, helping the United States win the gold medal at the Beijing Games in 2008. His nine days there were loaded with meetings and promotional stops, and the sheer numbers of fans who follow the NBA from the other side of the globe left him astounded.
"If someone over here asks for an autograph and I give one, they're good. That's it," Wade said. "If I give an autograph in China, I will see that same person at the next event, the next day, the next event and the next event. That's how much fans they are. It means that much. They still want to be in your presence. They want to see how you act. It's really humbling."
From afar, Wade has kept track of the state of NBA things at home.
He's in touch with his closest friends, like James, very regularly. He applauded James' decision to work on post play with former Rockets star and NBA champion Hakeem Olajuwon in Houston this summer, saying Tuesday that Miami's two top scorers have discussed what a bigger post repertoire for James could mean for the Heat down the road.
"It's just unbelievable," Wade said. "I'm excited for him and I'm also excited for us."
And if he's needed to get more involved in NBA lockout talks, to get a deal done, Wade says he'll be happy to help.
"At the end of the day, us as players, we didn't ask for this. We didn't want this," Wade said. "This is the owners' doing. They want this. They understand that we want to play. So me coming out and making a statement, LeBron coming out and making a statement saying we want to play, everyone should know that. We want this game. If we as a group get together and decide we need to take other steps, then that's what we'll do."