There’s been plenty of aging veterans who’ve been All-Stars and MVP’s or simply critical pieces to great teams, but there’s no true blueprint for the Dwyane Wade plan for this season.
Aside from Wade taking a practice day off last week, Wade and the Bulls are walking into this new relationship based off feel and communication, mostly leaving things to Wade to be honest about how he’s feeling some days compared to others.
Fred Hoiberg doesn’t have an example of anyone from his playing days and neither does Wade, but it seems like both sides will have to be cautious if they want Wade’s body to be in prime condition in the event the Bulls make a run at the playoffs.
“I give Dwyane credit, he does a really good job of understanding his body and when he needs a little time off during practice, we definitely give it to him,” Hoiberg said.
Even in the preseason, Hoiberg has had to deviate from his initial plan of keeping Wade out in the final stretches of third quarters to save his body, but with Wade prodding to get back in and Hoiberg liking Wade’s playmaking at the end of quarters, he couldn’t resist.
“Right now our plan was not to play him at the end of third quarter against Indiana, he wanted to go out there and get a couple minutes,” Hoiberg said.
That was when Wade was in full “Father Prime” mode, hitting a couple threes and setting up his teammates for eight assists in his 26-minute performance where he scored 22 points.
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One wonders if Hoiberg will have to exercise foresight during the regular season, to go against his instincts of letting Wade be Wade to look at the big picture and suppress his playing time.
“It'll be a lot of communication,” Hoiberg said. “And we had that last week in a one day practice where he was a little stiff and we had a conversation and the decision was made to hold him out of practice and he took the day completely off and got off his legs and had a really good day of practice the day leading into the preseason game.”
As confident as Wade is about the evolution of his game, he’s also realistic in the moment, well-aware of the balance he has to walk between getting in rhythm during the meaningless preseason games and not burning out too quickly.
With the Bulls having a three-game in four-night stretch starting Friday — a rarity on the preseason schedule — Wade joked “I won't be playing all those. I guarantee you that,” while also adding he wants to maximize his playing time along with using the time to get to know his teammates at the ground floor.
“Just being smart and understanding I am turning 35 this year (in January 2017),” Wade said. “As much as some days I feel great. Some days I feel 34. So I have to be smart and I want to be out here with those guys most of the nights we put on those uniforms, so same thing I did last year. I know my body. I'm just trying to be smart about how much I push it.”
“For me it's pretty much, you have to learn your body. I've been around for a very, very long time now. I've figured out how to push myself, how much to push myself and when to kind of lay back a little bit. It's great that the coaches allow me to make those decisions. We just stay in communication. That's all it is, it's all communication on how you feel. These guys know that I'm a worker. Just like most of these guys here.”
Hoiberg has given Wade a certain amount of carte blanche on the floor and in the locker room, along with Rajon Rondo, as they’re more vocal as veterans than the mild-mannered coach.
And Wade, be it by design or as a mark of his own character, has complimented Hoiberg and continued the narrative of the second-year coach being a little tougher than his reputation said he is, both to the media and his All-Star friends in their famous group chat.
“I told him Fred was kicking our ass over here,” Wade said. “Everybody got a chuckle out of it. It’s good.”