Dwyane Wade may soon be in the market for another team.
As part of ESPN’s team-by-team forecast for the upcoming season, reporter Nick Friedell reported Thursday that there is “widespread belief” in the Bulls organization that Dwyane Wade will come to an agreement with Chicago on a buyout deal. The Bulls and Wade are two ships passing each other in the night, the former headed in one direction (tanking, Marvin Bagley III Land), and the latter headed in a different one (money and, maybe, rings). It is this philosophical difference that makes it illogical for the two parties to remain together for the entire 2017–18 campaign.
But before Wade can go about joining his Banana Boat teammates in Houston or Cleveland, a few obstacles stand in his way. First, the money. Wade is owed a ridiculous $23.8 million this season, more than Anthony Davis is due.
Wade may be overpaid, but he’s not the sinkhole that many late-career superstars become. Wade on fumes is better than a lot of players at full throttle. During a contract year in 2015, Wade averaged more points per game (21.5) than he had in any season since 2011. He’s also shooting more 3s than ever, and making 31 percent of them, the second-highest mark of his career. If Wade were to restructure his game, he’d still be able to find something in the tank. But this past season, Wade’s shooting percentage was the lowest of his career. His value is murky.
One would think that Wade will not be walking away from Chicago without a good chunk of what the Bulls owe him. There will likely be a staring contest between the two parties as Gar Forman and Co. decide how much they are willing to give up for the sake of their rebuild. Regardless, there’s little upside to keeping Wade for longer than a few months.
If Wade does reach a buyout agreement with the Bulls, the possibilities of his next landing spot are intriguing. He will likely be amenable to taking a low salary with another team if he gets a good amount of what he’s currently owed in his buyout. That creates a scenario in which he can reasonably pick a new team without factoring in financial concerns.
In Houston, Wade could add another scoring force to an already powerful backcourt duo of James Harden and Chris Paul, especially if the Rockets can’t agree on a trade for Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks. In Miami, Wade could rebuild the bridges he burned when he left unceremoniously a year ago, while also becoming a key contributor to the Heat’s, uh, interesting roster composition. Of course, the draw of South Beach will factor in as well. Miami would welcome back a low-cost Wade. The question is, would Pat Riley?
Then there’s Cleveland. Oh, Cleveland. Acquiring Wade in the middle of the season after a buyout with the Bulls is probably outside the Top 10 Things Koby Altman Is Thinking About Right Now, but a Wade-LeBron one-year reunion would make sense, especially if Kyrie Irving is gone by then, as Wade could act as a serviceable ball handler. One last ride into the night, just like the good old days. Sign me up.
There will undoubtedly be more to Wade’s eventual landing spot than meets the eye. His move will serve as an indicator of where other big-name players may be going. Fourteen years into his career, Wade is still relevant.