Once Jimmy Butler was traded to Minnesota, it was only a matter of time.
On Sunday, Marquette Golden Eagles legend Dwyane Wade confirmed to the Chicago Tribune that he had negotiated a buyout with the Chicago Bulls. The termination of the contract via buyout makes Wade a free agent just nine days before Chicago was set to begin their preseason exhibition game schedule.
Wade signed with the Bulls in the summer of 2016 in a slight bit of a surprise. He had spent the first 13 years of his career with the Miami Heat after being draft by that club in 2003. Wade won three NBA championships with the Heat, including an NBA Finals MVP trophy in 2006. However, with LeBron James back in Cleveland since the start of the 2014-15 season and the health of Chris Bosh creating questions about the future of the franchise, Wade opted to sign with his hometown Bulls for a boatload of cash: $23 million for his first year, and a player option for another $23 million in his second season.
Wade picked up that player option in late June, but the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves literally two days later, thus altering the trajectory of that franchise. With Butler gone, it was clear that the team had decided to go into a rebuilding mode, and thus, the need to have Wade around was greatly diminished from management’s point of view, as well as from the superstar guard’s point of view.
Here’s what he told the Tribune’s K.C. Johnson:
"I just felt it was time for me, turning 36, that I want to be competing for a championship," Wade told the Tribune in a phone interview. "I said when I got here, it was always a dream for me to play here. And getting that opportunity was special. And I can't even say it wasn't what everyone expected because we went to the playoffs. And trying to restore this franchise to respectability was our goal. The organization decided to go in a different direction, which I respect.
"I understand how business works in this league. They were going a direction that at this point of my career, I didn't want to be a part of. Being unselfish, these young players they're giving these opportunities to, they need to have that time to make mistakes and learn as they're growing and building what they envision. They don't need an old guy like me hanging around them."
Rumors are already flying as to where Wade could end up. With roughly $15 million of his 2017-18 contract in his back pocket due to the buyout, Wade could sign with any contender for a veteran’s minimum since he clearly doesn’t need the money this season. As of late Sunday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst are reporting that the Cavaliers, the Heat, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are the primary options on Wade’s plate right now, with things leaning towards Cleveland. Heading to Cleveland would allow Wade to re-team with James, along with allow him to play with another former Marquette star in Jae Crowder. It’s doubtful that returning to the Heat would give Wade a chance to win another title in 2018, although the Heat were much better than their 41-41 record in the second half of last season.
Going to San Antonio or Oklahoma City would make sense from a championship opportunity, and it would also allow Wade to not be a driving force in attempting to win. The Spurs are loaded with quality players, while OKC just acquired Carmelo Anthony in a trade with the Knicks to partner up with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. However, the Western Conference is L-O-A-D-E-D with great teams, and that might not be the best chance to win a title right away.
It’s in everyone’s best interest for Wade to make a decision sooner rather than later, so keep your eyes and ears open for more on this story.....