NBA superstar Dwyane Wade has a big choice to make this summer: either stay with the Chicago Bulls and earn almost $24 million, or start a new chapter somewhere else.
It seems like lately, every offseason yields an important decision for Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade. This summer is no different.
Having come home prior to the start of the 2016-17 season after 13 years in South Beach playing for the Miami Heat, the veteran has a $23.8 million player option for next year. This means he can choose to remain with the Bulls and collect the remainder of his contract, or leave and find a new deal somewhere else.
For now, it is unclear where Wade’s head is at.
Shortly after Chicago was eliminated by the Boston Celtics from the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, Wade had this to say to ESPN’s Nick Friedell about his future:
“I don’t need to ring-chase, but I can. It’s a great luxury to have if I want to do. Or I can be a part of passing down my knowledge to younger players. It’s either way. Whatever I decide, I’m going to embrace whatever role I have on a team. That’s sometimes being the second option. Sometimes I’m going to be the first. And sometimes this season, I had to be the third or fourth. It all changes, and you want to be the best at whatever role is presented to you. I’ve always been that way.”
Naturally, this could be read as Wade returning to the Bulls. Or Wade going back to the Miami Heat. Or even Wade joining LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I’m in a very good situation to where as a player you can decide what you want to do. And I have a lot of money to decide whether I want to take it or not. It’s not a bad thing — because I’ve worked my butt off for it over my career. But no rush in my mind. I don’t have to think about that right now. I got at least a month before my mind starts going there. So I’m just going to get away and let my hair grow a little bit, get a tan.”
Wade has until June 27 to decide what the next chapter of his life will look like, but many are already on the edge of their seats waiting for his announcement. This, of course, very much includes Chicago’s front office.
So how exactly does Wade’s summer impact the organization?
Mar 22, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo (9) reacts against the Detroit Pistons during the second half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Rajon Rondo = $13.4 million
As surprising as Wade joining the Bulls was, Rondo also shocked the league when he announced he would be heading to Chicago.
Besides the fact that he did not fit management’s plan of going younger and more athletic, he had a reputation for being quite hot-headed — something that seemed like the last thing the organization would want to deal with, given how much locker room drama transpired between Jimmy Butler and the duo of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
But fast forward to the playoffs and it is clear just how valuable of an asset the 31-year-old really is.
Having averaged 11.5 points, 10.0 assists and 8.5 rebounds a game in the first two matchups against the Celtics, the guard led his 8-seed team to a 2-0 start against No. 1 seeded Boston Celtics. The Bulls were only the second ever eighth spot squad to win the first two games of a playoff series.
With that being said, it seems obvious that general manager Gar Forman and vice president John Paxson would want to keep Rondo around, and they have all but confirmed that. However, re-signing Rondo does come with a $13.4 million price tag. It’s a deal that they can afford, but it does eat up a significant part of their salary.
Even more so if Chicago also has to shell out almost $24 million to Wade.
However, if Wade decides to seek greener pastures, the Bulls will have much more flexibility, and not just financially either. They can happily give Rondo his $13.4 million, have roughly $27 million left over and move Jimmy Butler back to shooting guard, allowing room for a new forward to make his way onto the team.
Jan 20, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) and guard Dwyane Wade (3) talk against the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 102-93. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Butler and Wade: A bromance to remember
When the Three Alphas first formed, there was much concern over an ego clash. How would guys like Rondo and Wade come to Chicago, and not expect to take over the team? Even after both veterans gave interviews confirming the understanding that it was Butler’s squad, no one believed it would be smooth sailing.
But when it came to the relationship between Wade and Butler? The definition of bromance.
Now supposedly, it was Butler who came out strong in recruiting the Heat star in the first place. Both Marquette alumni, Butler had a feeling Wade would be exactly what the Bulls needed. And not just on the court, either.
“He’ll obviously help us win games with his scoring ability and the way he guards. But his leadership, the way he talks, the way he understands the game, he makes it easier for myself, for Rondo, for everybody — even the coaches.”
“All I know is I want him being my teammate for a long time. I’ve learned so much already. He makes my job easier and the jobs of everyone else in here easier. As long as he keeps playing like he is now, keeps evolving, he should stay here, finish things out here.”
The question is, what happens if Wade leaves? Will it also give Butler an incentive to start calling for a trade?
Although the 27-year-old has often found himself at the heart of the trade rumor mill, it does not seem the front office has any plans on moving him. Partly because of his tremendous skill set, but also because Butler himself has expressed his desire to stay.
However, this could very well change if the organization cannot convince Wade to play for them at least one more year.
Dec 12, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls vice president of basketball perations John Paxson (left) and general manager Gar Forman (center) talk with sports writer Sam Smith (right) prior to a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
A new plan for Chicago
It is no secret that the Bulls have had a hard time attracting free agents their way. Despite the draw of Rose and later Butler, it seemed like they were never really seriously considered by any top names. Even though guys like Carmelo Anthony have taken meetings with Chicago’s front office, it always seemed to be more of a courtesy gesture.
That is, until Rondo and Wade came along.
Finally, the front office was able to persuade two superstars in joining the team, even after the Bulls missed the 2016 NBA Playoffs. It was a good look for the franchise and certainly helped boost the morale of the squad itself too.
However, Wade leaving after only a year could certainly work against the organization, especially since he would be walking away from a near $24 million contract. It would undoubtedly send the message that Chicago is not worth fighting for, even with a large amount of money at stake.
That’s not necessarily be a factor in Wade’s decision, but it would certainly be a consequence of it.