Reclassifying to the Class of 2021 didn’t work out as well as young Zaire Wade would have hoped. The son of former NBA star Dwyane Wade enrolled at New Hampshire’s Brewster Academy last year in hopes of showcasing himself to college scouts. Instead, a torn ligament in his ankle sidelined him for much of the season. Now he will attempt to resurrect his professional prospects in the NBA G-League with an organization close to home.
According to reports, the 19-year-old Wade will sign with the G-League and likely play for the Salt Lake City Stars. The Stars happen to be the G-League affiliate of the Utah Jazz. His father just happened to purchase an ownership stake in the Jazz in April 2021. But before anyone alleges nepotism, realize that Zaire is a long way from an NBA roster spot.
How Dwyane Wade became a part of the Jazz ownership group
The Utah Jazz announced in April that Dwyane Wade purchased a stake in the organization and planned to take an active role, per SI.com.
“As a businessman, entrepreneur, and investor, I bring a lot to this partnership outside of my basketball experience,” Wade said at the time. “I’m excited to help take the Utah Jazz to the next level.”
Wade has a net worth of $170 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Over his 16-year NBA career, he earned $196.4 million. The majority came from the six-year deal Wade signed in 2010 to remain with the Miami Heat. He also played with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers before returning for a farewell tour in Miami.
The connection to the Jazz came through the team’s governor, Ryan Smith. Smith purchased a majority share of the franchise in 2020. Wade and Smith are frequent golf partners, and the business partnership spawned from that relationship.
At least on the surface, none of those details have anything to do with Zaire Wade joining Utah’s G-League affiliate.
Zaire Wade set to climb the G-League ranks
Zaire Wade is already a well-traveled basketball player even before suiting up for the first time as a professional. He played his freshman year at Chicago’s Mount Carmel High School before spending two years at American Heritage School in Miami.
He played the 2019–20 season at Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles, where he was teammates with Bronny James. They were second-generation teammates; their fathers, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, spent parts of five NBA seasons together with the Heat and Cavaliers.
According to 247 Sports, Wade is a combo guard. A 6-foot-3 left-hander, Wade was ranked in the top 300 nationally and had offers from South Carolina, Rhode Island, and Toledo.
Salt Lake City opens its season on Nov. 5 against the Oklahoma City Blue. Nathan Peavy is entering his second season as the Stars head coach after the team was 4–11 at the Orlando bubble in 2020–21.
It’s a much different route to the NBA than the one traversed by his father. After starring at Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois, Wade spent three years at Marquette University in Milwaukee. He helped the Golden Eagles to the Final Four as a junior in 2003 before declaring for the NBA draft. Wade was the fifth overall pick and counts the days until his Hall of Fame eligibility in 2023.
The road to the NBA is a much bumpier one for Zaire Wade
According to the league website, nearly half the NBA players at the start of last season previously spent time in the G-League.
Any NBA team can call up players in the G-League. Most find their way to the NBA initially on 10-day contracts, often as injury replacements or to fill roster spots vacated by trades.
Even though Dwyane Wade is a minority stakeholder in Utah, that doesn’t guarantee Zaire anything. For starters, the Jazz are a contender in the NBA. The Jazz finished last season with the NBA’s best record before losing to the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals.
And Utah is deep in the backcourt, led by two-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell and veteran point guard Mike Conley. The Jazz also have Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson, Australian sharpshooter Joe Ingles, and valuable defender Royce O’Neal. Another guard, Trent Forrest, is on a two-way contract, and Jared Butler’s second-round pick has impressed in camp.
Yes, Zaire has connections with the Utah Jazz, thanks to his father. But while being the boss’s kid might get you a mailroom job in an office, this is the NBA. If Zaire Wade can’t deliver the goods, Dwyane Wade’s name won’t matter.
Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.