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.”