Bulls

Dwyane Wade reunites with LeBron James in Cleveland, in hopes of a fourth title

Dwyane Wade reunites with LeBron James in Cleveland, in hopes of a fourth title

It was inevitable, the re-marriage between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as Wade committed to playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers after clearing waivers with the Bulls following his buyout.

Iconic moments, indelible images and South Beach parades are in the rearview mirror but another June appearance is likely for the Cavaliers as they hope to close the gap between themselves and the champion Golden State Warriors.

“It's simple for me man,” Wade told CSNChicago.com Monday. “I wanna get back to competing at the highest level and competing for a championship.”

He’ll get that shot in Ohio.

And oh yeah, Derrick Rose is part of the team, too, making 2011 Bulls fan feel very jealous or wistful considering how close that trio was to linking in Chicago in the summer of 2010 when Wade and James were free agents.

The events of the next few years are seared into the minds of those who’ve watched the Bulls suffer at the hands of James, as his teams have blown through the Bulls three times in his streak of seven straight Finals appearances—the first of which occurred in 2011 when Rose, at MVP form, wasn’t enough to take more than a game from James and Wade’s Heat squad in the East Finals.

James and Wade won two titles together, in 2012 and '13, making the Finals every year of their four in Miami. One would expect that streak to continue, as Wade signed for $2.3 million this season after giving back $8.5 million of his $23.8 million deal with the Bulls in a buyout.

“It's obviously different now than it was three or four years ago or five years ago, how many years ago was it?” queried Fred Hoiberg when asked if it was weird to see those three in Cavs red rather than Bulls red.

“Seven years ago. Have that group on the floor at that stage of their career. When you have LeBron, the most dominant player in the game on the floor, surround really high quality players with him, they're gonna be a force.”

Rose will be a reserve when Isaiah Thomas returns from his hip injury and it hasn’t been said whether Wade will be a starter or if the Cavaliers will stick with J.R. Smith. It’ll be curious to see how those three will fit on the floor together considering Wade nor Rose are feared perimeter shooters.

“I had the opportunity to coach Derrick, I love that year I was able to be around him,” Hoiberg said. “I like Derrick a lot, wish him nothing but the best and the same thing with Dwyane, the chance to coach a first ballot hall of famer.”

With Wade approaching age 36 and coming off a solid season with the Bulls where he averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 29.9 minutes, one would think he’ll be even more invigorated playing for a true title contender since the 2013-14 season—his last with James in Miami.

“First of all, I’m excited for Dwyane to get the opportunity to go compete for a championship again,” Hoiberg said. “Dwyane being in this stage of his career, to have that opportunity is very important to him as he winds down his career. I think it’s great for the Cavs. He’s going to an established situation, he’s obviously going to play with a guy that he has great chemistry with and won championships with in LeBron. I’m excited for Dwyane’s opportunity.’’

With five 30-point games and 21 20-point games last season, he was a capable option behind Jimmy Butler. As a third or fourth option in Cleveland, he could find scoring easier with James as a setup man.

“He’s always capable on any night to have a big-scoring game,” Hoiberg said. “He showed last year, especially in clutch situations, to be able to take over a game and make clutch plays, and that’s what he’s been doing his whole career.’’

Wade issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, announcing his signing with the Cavaliers and wrapping up his time in his hometown, Chicago.

“I've always dreamed of playing for the Chicago Bulls and I feel so fortunate to have fulfilled my dream this past year,” Wade said. “The team is now heading in a different direction, which has made me reevaluate where I need to be in this phase of my career. Being a part of a team that is in the process of rebuilding doesn't align with where I want to be right now no matter how difficult that decision may be.”

“In the hopes of pursuing a fourth championship, I've reached a deal with the Chicago Bulls and I am excited to share that I will be joining the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. There's no better place to be right now to continue to play and compete at the highest level. Cleveland believes in my talents and what I can bring to a championship contender both as a player and leader. I look forward to reuniting and playing alongside my brother LeBron. We’ve already won two championships together and I hope we win a third.”

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

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USA TODAY

Emotional return to the court for Quincy Pondexter after missing two seasons: 'The journey is worth it'

Quincy Pondexter’s trade to Chicago makes him a newcomer. His birth certificate makes him a veteran. But it’s his story that makes him worth listening to.

Even in the eye of team chaos, Pondexter’s debut with the Bulls had such a special meaning that when he entered the game to start the second quarter, he thought he would come to tears.

Having been out of basketball the last two years after knee surgeries went bad, Pondexter came close to dying in a New York hospital in January when his organs began to fail after a MRSA infection.

Catching MRSA can often lead to death.

“It wasn’t looking good,” Pondexter said. “It was tough. I prayed. My family was there close to me. Being able to play basketball again in less than a year is crazy. It’s all God. This journey has been amazing.”

His journey took him from being in New Orleans, where his knee troubles started, to being an addition to the Bulls in a trade months ago when the Bulls picked up cash and a second-round pick from the Pelicans.

Pondexter joined high school teammate and close friend Robin Lopez on a team needing some leadership, and due to the punch Bobby Portis threw to Nikola Mirotic Tuesday afternoon, it put Pondexter in position to get on the floor as a backup power forward behind rookie Lauri Markkanen.

If the Bulls were smart, they’d probably put Pondexter in a room to talk to his teammates about his struggles, especially the two teammates who may have to share the same floor in several weeks.

“The competitive nature of our team has been really terrific and we wouldn't want to trade that for anything,” Pondexter said. “It hurts those two guys aren't here right now. But we love them and we love what they brought to this team.

“I think my age on my ID solidifies me as one of the veterans. When you do things the right way, that's what it means to be a veteran. Show up first, last one there. That's what it means to be a veteran. Establishing myself there and doing things that are right, the guys have followed and listened and embraced me and I love it.”

No word on whether Pondexter got teary-eyed when he got a breakaway steal and dunk for his first points since the 2015 playoffs, when the Pelicans were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Warriors.

“I know I’m going to get emotional on the court later on and probably tear up,” Pondexter said after the morning shootaround. “I told Robin that a thousand times. People don’t know what you’ve been through. There are a lot of times they’re not there besides your close family and friends. I appreciate them carrying me through this whole process.”

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg can relate to Pondexter, with Hoiberg’s heart ailment cutting his career short. When the Bulls coach speaks about the frailty of the game and how precious things are in the NBA, Pondexter is living, breathing proof.

“I’m really really happy for Quincy. For a time there, his life was in danger with his infection. I know he’s really excited to get his career going again,” Hoiberg said. “I never got that opportunity to get back out there. I tell these guys to cherish it ever day. You never know when it can end. All of a sudden. For Quincy to get this chance, it’s awesome.”

Pondexter, with the straightest of faces, called basketball his “obsession” and he felt happy to get back on the floor, if even for a few minutes.

“I love it to death. It’s my life,” Pondexter said. “Basketball is what got me through it---my family and basketball. It was like, ‘How can I make this story even better? Do I quit?’ No. I watched so many inspirational movies, 'Hacksaw Ridge.' They get you through tough times because you say, ‘That’s going to be me.’ I’m going to be able to inspire someone down the road. That’s really helped me.”

A hamstring injury slowed Pondexter in training camp, which would explain his lack of explosive lift in the season opener.

No one was really sure if the Bulls would hold onto him for the season, but it’s clear he holds value beyond the box score. When he finished his media session, Lopez turned to Pondexter and said, “Now you’re stuck with me”, putting his arm around his teammate.

“Being able to play after two and a half years, it feels like hundreds of surgeries, getting traded to this organization. It's been a lot,” Pondexter said. “I wouldn't trade any of that for this moment right now and how I feel in my heart. I can't wait to get on this floor and play with my teammates and try to do something special. The journey is worth it.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: Trounced by Raptors in season opener

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Trounced by Raptors in season opener

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Will Perdue break down the Bulls season opener vs the Raptors. They’ll explain why Bulls fans should be very happy with the debut of rookie Lauri Markkanen and Kendall points out why he expects the Markkanen/Lavine combo to be great on the offensive end. They’ll also go over their concerns at point guard, and Will shares his story of how Greg Popovich dealt with a losing Spurs team in 1996-97.