Dwyane Wade to return to Chicago, sign with Bulls

Dwyane Wade to return to Chicago, sign with Bulls

It was a longshot, but the Bulls had a shot at nabbing Dwyane Wade — if things went sour with the Miami Heat.

And the Bulls did just enough to show Wade the love and respect he felt he was missing, along with moving a couple critical pieces to clear salary-cap space in order to get him to agree to a two-year, $47.5 million deal, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The Heat offered two years and $40 million and did not increase the offer at the last second when it was clear the Bulls and Denver Nuggets were serious suitors. After making huge sacrifices in previous contract demands, he wanted to collect, but the Heat was only willing to go so far, leaving the door open for other teams to swoop in.

It was evident the hurt feelings would last, and the acrimony seemed to grow in recent days, money notwithstanding.

The Nuggets offered the biggest deal for Wade, but Wade chose to return back to a familiar place over heading out West — perhaps as a way to go head-up against the Heat and even LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

[MORE BULLS TALK: Dwyane Wade's top five performances at the United Center]

Wade leaves Miami, where he spent 13 years as a Heat staple and sometimes Bulls-killer, winning three NBA championships and a Finals MVP in 2006. Arguably, Wade is the third-best shooting guard in NBA history behind his idol Michael Jordan and recently retired Kobe Bryant.

Wade averaged 19.0 points, 4.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 74 games last season, the most games he’s played since the 2010-11 campaign, his first alongside James in Miami.

That was also the year the Bulls marched to the Eastern Conference Finals, losing to Wade and James in five games. His storied career has been marred a bit by nagging injuries, but he seemed to shake that a little last season, being one of the more durable shooting guards in the league.

Wade, who is a native of Robbins, Ill., and attended high school in Oak Lawn, returns to where he grew up to help a Bulls team that was certainly in transition after the recent departures of Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah.

It’s a clear sign the Bulls want to remain competitive in the interim, as they hope some of the young pieces they’re investing in will step forward, aided by Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and now Wade.

Chicago certainly wasn’t Wade’s first choice, as the Bulls believed Wade and the Heat would work things out, as they always seem to do. But the Heat never upped their offer to Wade, and Wade saw it fitting to return home, a reunion made possible after the Bulls unloaded Jose Calderon to the Los Angeles Lakers and Mike Dunleavy Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

“Growing up in Robbins, Ill., I never dreamed that an NBA career would be possible and that one day I would wear a Chicago Bulls jersey,” Wade said to the Associated Press in a letter. “Watching the Bulls growing up inspired me at an early age to pursue my dream of becoming a basketball player. My most treasured memories were watching my dad play basketball on the courts of Fermi Elementary School and developing my game at the Blue Island Recreational Center. I have never forgotten where I came from, and I am thankful to have an opportunity to play for the team that first fueled my love for the game. Many of my family members still live in Chicago, and I am excited to return home to a city very close to my heart. I look forward to returning to my roots and to what lies ahead.”

What lies ahead for the Bulls is certainly an unknown, as the fit between Wade, Butler and Rondo will be a task considering none are jump shooters, making it less than an ideal fit for Fred Hoiberg’s pace-and-space system.

But gathering talent like Wade and Rondo is better than no talent at all, the Bulls believe, and they maintain some flexibility for the future with the short deals for Wade and Rondo — keeping themselves relevant if not unpredictable in the meantime.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bulls trade up or down in the draft?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bulls trade up or down in the draft?

Mark Carman, Hub Arkush, Phil Rogers and Will Perdue join Kap on the SportsTalk Live Podcast.

The guys start by discussing Brandon Morrow's injury that he sustained while taking off his pants... what's the craziest cause for an injury the guys can remember?

Plus, should the Bulls move up or down in Thursday's NBA Draft? Does it make sense to take on a bad contract in a potential deal?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Chandler Hutchison's unusual basketball background makes him an intriguing target for the Bulls


Chandler Hutchison's unusual basketball background makes him an intriguing target for the Bulls

Over the past several weeks, the Bulls have been heavily rumored to be selecting Boise State small forward Chandler Hutchison with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Although the 6-foot-7 Hutchison had a stellar four-year career with the Broncos, and was regarded as a top-100 national prospect coming out of high school, his background is relatively unknown compared to many of his first-round counterparts. Not many recruiting gurus watched Hutchison in-depth in high school. The same could be said about draft analysts watching Hutchison's career unfold at Boise State.

Part of the reason Hutchison has flown under the radar for so long, despite being a first-round talent, is his unique basketball upbringing. Many elite high school players opt to transfer to big-time basketball schools while playing in high-exposure shoe-company leagues during the spring and summer. Instead of the normal path, Hutchison chose to stick with the people that he trusted.

Playing for a small, independent grassroots program in high school known as Team Eastbay, Hutchison started showing special gifts as a sophomore in before blossoming into a top-100 national prospect towards the end of high school. Hutchison's trainer and coach with Team Eastbay, Perry Webster, saw that Chandler had the ability to be a big-time player.

"I walked into the gym and saw this 15-year-old kind of gangly kid. And he just moved different than anybody else. I thought he had a chance to be a pretty good player," Webster said of Hutchison.

As Hutchison developed more of a reputation in the Southern California basketball scene, becoming a starter at Mission Viejo High School his junior season, he started to draw more attention from local and national recruiting analysts — including former ESPN recruiting insider Joel Francisco, Scout.com's Josh Gershon and SoCal recruiting analyst Devin Ugland.

"You saw during his junior year that he was a legitimate Division I prospect. During the spring he started blossoming," Francisco said. "He had the ball skills and the prototypical length and things like that. And he was finishing plays. He had a good IQ for the game. It was a matter of strength and he had to fill out to become a more complete player."

By the end of summer going into his senior season, Hutchison had established himself as a potential Pac-12 recruit, as schools like Oregon and USC started to show heavy interest. But it was mid-major programs like Boise State, Saint Mary's and UC-Irvine who had long been involved in Hutchison's recruitment.

Knowing that Hutchison was a unique wing with a high IQ and passing skills, Webster, a former Division I player at Cal State Fullerton himself, advised that his star player take a close look at the programs that would put him in position to succeed right away.

"Every AAU program in Southern California was trying to get him for their team. Free ride this, free shoes. The kid stayed really loyal to me. I was very hard on him," Webster said. "I demanded a lot of him. I screamed at him, I yelled at him. And he looked me in the eye and took it. I realized, this kid is pretty special because he's not running away from what he is. He knows what his limitations are. That's not something he's afraid to address.

"Not everybody was sold on him. Joel [Francisco] was. Joel was one of the proponents of him. But being that he burst on the scene late, and that he didn't play for the big shoe companies, we kind of came to the decision that we wouldn't be so enamored by the Pac-12. He realized he had ability but he still had a long way to go." 

Hutchison eventually decided to sign his National Letter of Intent with Boise State before his senior season started as assistant coach Jeff Linder acted as his lead recruiter. Even though his collegiate future had been decided, Hutchison continued to evolve into a major prospect during senior year as he flourished at Mission Viejo.

Even with his strong senior season, skepticism remained about Hutchison since he hadn't played with and against many of the major names in Southern California. Ranked as the No. 83 overall prospect in ESPN's final Class of 2014 national recruiting rankings, Hutchison was viewed as the seventh best player in his own state. While Francisco pushed for Hutchison to be ranked in the top 50, he had to settle for him being a back-end top-100 talent.

"They're like, hey, he's going to Boise State, he's not on a major shoe company team. How good can he be? But if he can play, he can play. It doesn't matter if he's not on the adidas circuit, he's not in the EYBL," Francisco said.

Francisco wasn't the only major recruiting analyst to take notice of Hutchison's play. Rivals.com's Eric Bossi also labeled Hutchison as a potential breakout player at Boise State. Hutchison was even placed in the Rivals national recruiting rankings, ending up at No. 98 overall, after his senior season. Bossi was on vacation with his family during spring break and he happened to see Hutchison play during his senior season. But Hutchison's strong effort, along with some research, convinced Bossi that he was worthy of a top-100 ranking, even with only one serious viewing. 

"I decided to go watch some regional California high school playoff stuff. And it just so happened to be that Chandler's high school team was one of the teams I was seeing," Bossi said. "I knew he was on the team and committed to Boise State. But then when I watched him play I was like, 'Holy cow, what an incredible get for Boise State. Like, this dude's legit.' He had great size for a wing. He could handle the ball, he could really pass and I thought he could defend multiple positions at the next level when it was all said and done. I thought he was a versatile, well-skilled, well-rounded basketball player. So, based on that, I thought he was top-100. I wish I had seen him more."

Even as a former top-100 national prospect, it took some time for Hutchison to gain traction at Boise State as he didn't put up big numbers during his first two seasons. Although Hutchison played plenty of minutes and started a healthy amount of games, he often took a back seat to talented all-conference players like Anthony Drmic and James Webb III.

When those players eventually moved on from the Broncos, Hutchison was given his chance to shine, as his ascension into all-conference player and future first-round pick came with an intense work ethic that continually developed during workouts in college.

Hutchison also became a consistent three-point threat — something he had been lacking during his development — as he became a hot name in the 2018 NBA Draft despite his unorthodox basketball background.

"He's always been competitive. I think the big thing is reps. And it still will be as he continues to play in the league," Webster said. "He wasn't a bad shooter in high school, but I think the big adjustment for him getting to college, it's hard to put up good percentages in college. I think some of it is mental. But I think he's a good shooter and I think that he'll prove that." 

It's hard to predict if the Bulls will end up with Hutchison with the No. 22 overall pick on Thursday night — especially given all of the chaos that can occur on draft night. But if Hutchison does end up in Chicago, he won't be fazed by having to prove himself after already doing so at the high school and college level.