Bulls avoid awkwardness with Dwyane Wade buyout

Bulls avoid awkwardness with Dwyane Wade buyout

The last domino to fall in the NBA’s summer of upheaval was Dwyane Wade’s buyout from the Bulls, as he and the Bulls avoided a hairy situation by coming to an agreement Sunday night that grants Wade his freedom from what was sure to look like basketball purgatory this coming season.

Wade would’ve been forced to answer questions about his future had he still been on the roster for Media Day, but the awkwardness on Monday only stemmed from the Bulls front office speaking so highly of Wade’s time in Chicago.

There was certainly a feeling that Wade believed Jimmy Butler would still be on the roster when he picked up his option for this season, the day before Butler was traded to Minnesota on draft day.

It was likely Wade would’ve picked up his option regardless, a smart move considering the way the free agent money quickly dried up, and it would’ve been difficult to see a team shelling out over $20 million for a 36-year old who, on occasion, can carry a good team to fourth-quarter wins.

He didn’t have the long-lasting impact he hoped to achieve, as he, Butler and Rajon Rondo each took turns in the center of controversy—sometimes together.

That will not be the case for the Three Alphas this year, as the only thing close to that on the podium was John Paxson, Gar Forman and head coach Fred Hoiberg. It was a far cry to the cautious optimism that surrounded the team one year ago, and certainly a disparate view from the past six seasons when they felt the breaks of the game can lead to championship contention.

“We have nothing but good things to say about him – professional, great player, can still play the game,” said Paxson, Bulls Executive Vice-President. “We wish him well, and we’re happy he’s in a good place and will find a situation that’s best for him.”

The best situation for Wade seems to point to Cleveland, as the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are also in the hunt, sources tell CSNChicago.com. Wade could team back up with LeBron James from their days in Miami and be a frontrunner for a berth in the NBA Finals with the Cavaliers for the fourth straight time.

“When Dwyane acknowledged that he wanted to play for a contender and didn’t want to be part of a rebuild, look, we worked with him, he worked with us and it became something we were able to do this weekend,” Paxson said. “Like we said, we wish him all the best. He’ll do great.”

Collecting a cool $39 million—he gave back $8.5 million in the buyout of his $23.8 million deal, according to sources—made his Chicago experience a good one for his pocketbook.

“He emphasized he was proud to wear a Bulls uniform for one time in his life, as he was from here,” Paxson said. “That was something I know he felt good about.”

Wade’s departure leaves Robin Lopez as the highest-paid Bull, as he’s due $13.7 million this season. With one year left on his deal after this season, he could garner interest around the league, especially with the Bulls headed to tank town.

“It’s something you think about,” Lopez admitted to CSNChicago.com. “But that’s why you have your representatives for. I’m looking forward to helping the young guys.”

Bulls Bracket Madness: The best individual seasons in franchise history


Bulls Bracket Madness: The best individual seasons in franchise history

We're trying to figure out the best season in Bulls franchise history, and we want your help in deciding.

Because the Bulls tout the greatest player in basketball history, who could have made up this list by himself, we're giving Michael Jordan his own side of the bracket. But the other side of the bracket is also filled with some pretty memorable and remarkable campaigns.

So read up on each matchup and then have your voice heard by voting on our Twitter page here. Check out the entire bracket in the graphic above.

The Jordan Region

No. 1 Michael Jordan (1995-96) vs. No. 8 Michael Jordan (1990-91)

No. 1 Michael Jordan (1995-96): Jordan was on a mission in his first full season back from retirement. He led the Bulls to a then-record 72 wins with a regular-season MVP award, All-Star MVP and romp through the NBA playoffs, where the Bulls went 15-3 en route to their fourth NBA title. Jordan won his eighth straight scoring title at 30.4 points a game, with nine games where he put up 40 or more. He saved his best for Detroit, scoring 53 with 11 rebounds and six steals in early March. To prove Jordan was getting better as he aged, he shot a career-high 43 percent from 3-point range at age 33.

No. 2 Michael Jordan (1990-91): 1990-91: Jordan's second MVP came with his first NBA title, as he was at the peak of his powers physically combined with the ultimate team success, with the Bulls finally getting past Detroit before defeating the Lakers in the Finals. He shot a career-high 54 percent from the field while averaging 31.5 points, six rebounds and 5.5 assists as he began to fully embrace the triangle offense in Phil Jackson's second season. Jordan had 57 games where he shot better than 50 percent from the field, and was among the league leaders in steals at 2.7 per game while earning his fourth straight All-Defensive First Team honor.

No. 1 Derrick Rose (2010-11) vs. No. 2 Scottie Pippen (1993-94)

No. 1 Derrick Rose (2010-11): Where to begin? The youngest MVP in league history took the league by storm, averaging 25.0 points and 7.7 assists while leading the Bulls to a league-best 62 wins. Rose had been named an All-Star the previous season but took his game to new heights in Year 3, appearing in 81 games, making 128 3-pointers (after making a combined 32 his first two seasons) while helping the Bulls rank first in defensive efficiency under first year head coach Tom Thibodeau. Rose and the Bulls lost in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat, with Rose shooting a paltry 35 percent on 24 attempts per game. But his historic season will always go down as one of the franchise’s best, and the only non-Jordan MVP.

No. 2 Scottie Pippen (1993-94): Yeah, well what would Scottie be without MJ? We found out that answer in 1993-94, when Pippen took the reins of the franchise as Jordan rode the Birmingham bus as a minor-league baseball player. Pippen responded with a sensational season, averaging 22.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. He averaged 2.9 steals, shot 49 percent from the field and became a 3-point threat for the first time in his career. He was named First Team All-NBA and All-NBA Defensive First Team, and finished third to Hakeem and The Admiral in MVP voting. He averaged 22.8/8.3/4.6 in the postseason but ultimately proved it was easier to win in the spring with MJ by his side. Still, this individual season was one of the franchise’s best, if not the best. Hardware isn’t everything.

NBA Draft Tracker: Kentucky PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander


NBA Draft Tracker: Kentucky PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

For most of the college basketball season, John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats ranked among the nation’s biggest underachievers. Calipari had perfected the one-and-done route in Lexington, recruiting classes full of McDonald’s All-Americans every year, making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, and then sending those talented freshmen off to the NBA. Matter of fact, Coach Cal’s ability to get players ready to play professionally is the foundation of his recruiting success.

However, this season the tried and true formula ran into a bit of a speed bump. Injuries and inconsistency led to double digit losses for the Wildcats during the regular season, and an uncertain tournament outlook. That’s when freshman point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander emerged as the leader of this young team, and sparked Kentucky to a Southeastern Conference tournament championship.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been even better in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 19 points with 8 rebounds and 7 assists in the Wildcats’ opening round win over Davidson, then coming back with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in a victory over Buffalo.

At 6-6, Gilgeous-Alexander has the ability to shoot and pass over smaller defenders, while also possessing the quickness that is so crucial at the point guard position. Yes, he is very thin at 180 pounds, but has the frame to put on weight once he’s introduced to an NBA strength training program.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been Kentucky’s most efficient player throughout the season, shooting 49% from the field and nearly 42% from the 3 point line. He has the quickness and ball-handling ability to break down defenses and get in the paint for easy scores or assists. As the season progressed, Gilgeous-Alexander took on the role of go-to scorer late in games, sparking Kentucky’s runs in the S.E.C. AND NCAA tournaments.

So, by now I’m sure you’re asking, where does he fit with the Bulls? 3 weeks ago I was hoping Gilgeous-Alexander might be available in the 16-22 range where the Bulls might be able to get him with the Pelicans’ 1st round pick acquired in the Niko Mirotic trade. Unfortunately, his outstanding post-season play has him rocketing into the late lottery in the most recent mock drafts, and he could move up even higher if Kentucky advances to the Final 4.

The Bulls are happy with Kris Dunn as their starting point guard, and both Jerian Grant and Cameron Payne are under contract for next season. But if somehow the Pelicans fall out of the playoff field in the West (which seems very unlikely right now), adding an athletic combo guard like Gilgeous-Alexander would be an outstanding pick at 13 or 14.

So, when you’re watching Kentucky play in the NCAA Tournament, keep an eye on the tall, skinny guard wearing #22 and try to project just how good he might be on the professional level.