Heat, Cavs among potential destinations if Bulls' Dwyane Wade receives buyout
Evaluating where the future Hall of Famer might land up if he is freed from Chicago's rebuilding project
Dwyane Wade picked up his $23.8 million option to stay with the Chicago Bulls, but that doesn't mean he'll play another game for them. The Bulls are rebuilding, and they could be one of the worst teams in the league next season. Wade, 35, did not sign up for that when he agreed to join Jimmy Butler, who has since been traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, last summer. According to ESPN's Nick Friedell, it would if Wade accepted a buyout in the coming months.
Chicago vice president John Paxson is on the record saying that a potential buyout "would absolutely have to benefit us," via ESPN. Translation: Wade would have to give up some of that $23.8 million. Let's assume he is willing to do that and have a look at possible destinations for the future Hall of Famer.
Do they give him a chance to compete for a title? No.
Why else would he go there? This is the sentimental choice and the best story. Wade played 13 seasons in Miami and was supposed to be a "Heat lifer" before contract negotiations broke down in the 2016 offseason and he decided to join his hometown team. He is still beloved in Miami, and if he finishes his career there, his sojourn in Chicago will be all but forgotten. There has already been a Udonis Haslem said Thursday that the Heat would love to have him back.about a reunion, and
How's the fit? On one hand, Wade knows Erik Spoelstra and his basketball philosophy as well as anybody. There will be no adjustment period when it comes to the culture of the organization. On the other hand, his partnership with Goran Dragic wasn't always easy, and Miami doesn't exactly need another guard with Dion Waiters, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington and Rodney McGruder on the roster. On some teams, Wade could be a veteran sixth man who comes into the game to stabilize things and put some points on the board. With the Heat, though, he'd immediately be seen as a larger-than-life star again. That could be a bit awkward.
How much can they pay him? Miami has the full $4.3 million room exception available.
Do they give him a chance to compete for a title? Yes. Even though we don't know what the Cavs will get in return for Kyrie Irving, they are still the massive favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference.
Why else would he go there? To play with LeBron James again. A month after James left Wade's Heat to sign with Cleveland, the superstar was the first person to arrive at Wade's wedding. Wade said last October that he considered the Cavs in free agency, but decided Chicago was a better fit. He might think differently about it after a buyout, with a small window to compete for another championship and money no longer as much of a factor.
How's the fit? If Cleveland would like to tweak its offense so that it isn't relying on two people doing all the playmaking, then Wade would help. He is not a dangerous shooter, so he's not the typical Cavs acquisition, but he developed excellent chemistry with James largely because he's an excellent cutter. While he doesn't address Cleveland's defensive deficiencies, there's nothing wrong with him taking some minutes away from J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert.
How much can they pay him? The Cavs have $2.4 million of their taxpayer mid-level exception available, as they used the rest on Cedi Osman. This is only marginally better than giving him the $2.3 million veteran's minimum.
Do they give him a chance to compete for a title? Yes. The Rockets might not be on the Warriors' level, but they're loaded.
Why else would he go there? Banana boat reunion! He'd get to play with his buddy Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony could be on the way, too. If Wade is ready to accept a bench role, this is the best place to do so: there is no shame in backing up Paul and James Harden.
How's the fit? It's not perfect because Houston coach Mike D'Antoni would like to have as many 3-point shooters on the court as possible, but it could work. The Rockets recognized they needed to take pressure off of James Harden and diversify their offense before they acquired Paul, and getting Wade would be taking another step in that direction. The biggest issue is that Eric Gordon just won the Sixth Man of the Year award, and fitting Wade into Lou Williams' role is complicated by the fact that D'Antoni is planning to stagger Harden and Paul. These are first-world problems, but they're still problems.
How much can they pay him? The Rockets can pay Wade the veteran's minimum of $2.3 million.
San Antonio Spurs
Do they give him a chance to compete for a title? Yes. You can never count out the Spurs.
Why else would he go there? To play for Gregg Popovich and be a part of a system that is the envy of the rest of the league. The Spurs will manage Wade's minutes, find the right role for him and give him an environment that is completely different than what he just experienced with the Bulls. He is often praised for his professionalism, and there's no more professional operation than this one.
How's the fit? The Spurs love old guys and midrange jump shots, so this makes sense. Also, with Tony Parker recovering from a ruptured quad, they could use some more playmaking. It would be wild to see Wade and Manu Ginobili play together, and if this means Dejounte Murray has to wait a bit longer to play himself into a bigger role, so be it. High-IQ players like Wade generally fit in well in San Antonio, even if it takes them a little while to adjust to the way they do things.
How much can they pay him? San Antonio has the bi-annual exception of $3.3 million.
Do they give him a chance to compete for a title? No.
Why else would he go there? The Timberwolves might not be contenders, but they should be quite good. Wade would get to keep playing with Butler and be a mentor to Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. This team looks like it will be both fun and tough, two qualities that should appeal to Wade.
How's the fit? Not that great. Ideally, Minnesota would add a better 3-point shooter, but he does give the bench more firepower. I don't love the idea of playing him next to backup guard Jamal Crawford, though, and that seems unavoidable.
How much can they pay him? The Timberwolves can pay Wade the veteran's minimum of $2.3 million.
Do they give him a chance to win a title? No.
Why else would he go there? He played his college basketball at Marquette, so he's familiar with the city. It's also close to his hometown of Chicago. He reportedly considered signing with the Bucks last July, though that would have been for much more money and he ended up cancelling his meeting with the team. Going to Milwaukee would allow Wade to remain a starter on a pretty good team, but Giannis Antetokounmpo would clearly be the No. 1 option and franchise player. In other words, it would be a lot like what he hoped the Bulls situation would be.
How's the fit? There could be spacing concerns (especially when Jabari Parker is healthy), but I still like it. Milwaukee needs more playmaking, and Wade can complement Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon in its versatile starting lineup. In a couple of playoff wins against the Raptors, the Bucks showed they could be a special team eventually. Wade could help speed up the process.
How much can they pay him? Milwaukee can use $4.4 million of its midlevel exception to sign Wade.
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