Dwyane Wade on 2010 free agency: 'My eyes were here, LeBron's eyes were here'

Dwyane Wade on 2010 free agency: 'My eyes were here, LeBron's eyes were here'

The idea that Chicago was an ideal destination for Dwyane Wade and LeBron James always seemed more like conjecture and a kind nod to Wade’s hometown more than something that was actually possible in 2010.

But on the eve of James’ first visit to Chicago, as the Cavs come into town for a preseason game Friday night, Wade said a Chicago union was a lot closer to fruition than many believed.

“Chris Bosh effect,” Wade said, referring to the third member of Miami’s Big Three that won two championships in four years, making the Finals every season from 2011 to 2014. “(Miami) Had the opportunity for us three to play together and we both separately really wanted to play for Chris Bosh. It was gonna be kind of a sense where Chicago could’ve got two players and it probably was going to be LeBron and Chris or me and Chris.”

Wade took multiple visits as a free agent in July to Chicago, leading many to believe he would join a team coming off two first-round exits but presenting a core of a young and healthy Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng.

Having already won a championship in Miami, Wade had designs on helping his favorite team return to glory—and bringing James with him. Considering the villain role both took with Bulls fans in the years after, picturing them here in their primes is a tantalizing but weird thought.

“I mean, this is a place I wanted to play,” Wade said. “It was a place LeBron also loved. We loved the city of Chicago. It’s a great market as well. Obviously, the sunny sun of Miami is great too. We had two great choices. It pretty much boiled down to what we felt we could build.”

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The Bulls just hired away a promising assistant from Boston named Tom Thibodeau, and were marked as a top free-agent destination.

“Chicago was very tempting from a standpoint of what they had on the roster when it came to young talent,” Wade said. “But when it came to the point Miami was able to get three players, that changed the whole dynamic of the summer.”

“But I know LeBron’s eyes were here. I know my eyes were here. I know Chris’ eyes were kind of everywhere because he was in Toronto so he was just happy that people knew who he was (laughs). Toronto was a little different than it is today.”

Wade chuckles at the conspiracy theories that the three always planned on signing together in Miami back when they signed short-term extensions in the summer of 2006.

“Crazy notion. I wish we were that smart,” Wade said. “Thank you for the credit for seeing in the future. We knew what the money would be like, we knew that the Miami Heat would have it. It makes no sense. How did we know the Heat could afford 3 players? How did we have an idea in 2006 or whenever they said we would have this plan that the Miami Heat would be able to do this? I never thought me and LeBron would play together.”

“It was a question posed to me, y'all can ask, (Heat owner) Micky Arison asked me a year or two before, you think LeBron would like to come to Miami? I said "you got a 0.000001 percent chance" it was a powerful .1 percent because he ended up coming but I had no idea, I never thought about it, besides All-Star games and Olympics, I never thought about the NBA, taking the same court. But when it presented itself, you open it up, you start the conversation, you start looking at it a little different. Thank everybody for thinking we were that smart but this kind of happened when it happened.”

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The Bulls had the cap space to sign two max players that summer, and apparently were in negotiations with the Los Angeles Clippers to trade Deng to free up even more money, especially as the Bulls got word the Heat had three salary slots opening up to fit the top three free agents on the market.

According to published reports at the time, a Deng trade would’ve given the Bulls nearly $30 million in cap space and had it happened, Wade said, “It would be a different story. We thought about it. That didn’t happen. It was something they talked about. They were very open with us with what they were trying to do.”

From a talent standpoint, perhaps the Bulls would’ve been better equipped to acquire a then-27 year old Wade, who averaged nearly 27 points to go with 6.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds along with James, the 25-year old two-time reigning MVP.

How Wade, James and Rose would’ve fit together certainly seemed like a cluster, especially considering Rose’s star was on the rise, approaching a year where he was the youngest MVP winner in NBA history.

Seeing how Wade and James struggled to figure out how to play together the first year in Miami wouldn’t have compared to the issues if their point guard was just as aggressive on offense.

“So you’re already talking two guys who are ball dominant,” Wade said. “And then you have a young up-and-coming star in the league who is ball dominant. At that time, I don’t think it would’ve worked out for us. We took our two ball-dominant selves away from having three guys as ball dominant.”

But when Miami GM Pat Riley orchestrated the pieces to free up that third salary cap slot, that’s when the Heat took the lead and signed the free agents, leaving Chicagoans to wonder “what if” every time they saw Wade in a Heat uniform since.

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.