Bulls

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.”

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

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USA TODAY

Jimmy Butler may have gotten uninvited to the Wade's BBQ again

Jimmy Butler is in hot water with the Wades ... again.

Maybe not really, but the two former Bulls teammates exchanged pleasantries on Instagram after Butler commented on a photo Dwyane Wade's wife Gabrielle Union posted poolside, saying: "WELL DAMN!!"

Wade, a three-time all-defensive second team, came to his wife's defense when Butler posted a video the next day with the caption: "The good, the bad, and the ugly...", prompting Wade to respond: "Put well damn in caps on my wife photo again and you're gonna see what the good, the bad and the ugly is like."

*Mic drop*

It appears this won't affect Butler getting an invite to the next get together. Or so he hopes...

"Well that escalated quickly," Butler responded to Wade. "Point noted.. I'm still coming to the bbq tho 😂😂😂"

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

SI names Lauri Markkanen a top-five candidate for a breakout season

Lauri Markkanen has been making headlines this offseason, mostly for bulking up considerably, and making appearances around Chicago at Nike camps and Jabari Parker’s camp, but as the season nears, his on-the-court exploits are starting to come up as well. On Thursday, Sports Illustrated put Lauri Markkanen on their list of five breakout candidates for the 2018-19 season

SI writer Michael Shapiro had this to say about Markkanen:


Markkanen has all the tools to be a future All-Star, and it looks as though he has the mindset, too. He seemed to take his matchup with Porzingis personally in early January, demanding the ball down the stretch en route to a career-high 33 points in a road victory. The Bulls enter 2018-19 on the outside of the East playoff picture, but Chicago is now home to the NBA’s newest unicorn.

High praise indeed for Markkanen, and well-deserved praise considering that he finished with a usage rate lower with the Bulls than his college stint at Arizona, yet still was able to have an impact on the Bulls. Shapiro mentioned Markkanen’s burgeoning off-the-dribble game as the skill that most stood out, and speaks to the Finnish big man’s All-Star potential. 

While the 21-year-old’s threes lived up to the hype, it was his prowess of the bounce that made the biggest impression. Markkanen showed a deft handle and array of canny fakes in the post, adding a mean streak to boot. The Finnisher lived up to his nickname, unafraid of contact and eager to fight for position in the post. The stereotype of the soft European big man doesn’t apply here.

The numbers back this up. 

Among the Bulls top 10 players in drives per game last season, Markkanen finished second in field percentage (on drives) at 46.1 percent. If that numbers rises, or more likely, Markkanen drives to the basket more, his scoring total will increase. And when it came to finishing around the paint in general, he shot  67.6 percent on shots from zero-to-three feet, making him the third best in that range out of the Bulls top nine rotation players last season. Yet among the same group of players, Markkanen ranked sixth in shot attempts from zero-to-three feet. With the presence of Wendell Carter Jr., and another year of internal growth from Bobby Portis- bigs that can stretch the floor -Markkanen should be the recipient of more plays putting him in a position to score around the basket.

On a roster that will surely give big minutes to Parker, Kris Dunn, Carter, Chandler Hutchison and a working-his-way-back to form Zach LaVine, Markkanen may be surest 3-point shooter on the floor. This means defenses will key in on his outside shot. If players are routinely closing out hard on Markkanen- as they should -this will open up more driving opportunities for the nimble seven-footer. 

The third or fourth season is usually when young players take the leap from good to great, but Markkanen will be playing with the most talented group of teammates he has ever been surrounded with. How he handles playing with this group will go a long way towards establishing what kind of player he will be in the future, specifically if he is an All-Star caliber talent. On the 2018-19 Bulls, someone will have to hover around a 20 percent usage rate, making them a clear third-option, whoever that player is, his last name should not be Markkanen.