Dwyane Wade and the Bulls are in an awkward situation. Wade chose to opt into the final year of his $24 million contract just two days before the NBA Draft. If Wade had hit the open free agent market, he probably wouldn't have fetched as much money as he would by opting in. Not to mention, with Jimmy Butler next to him in Chicago it felt like the Bulls had a chance to at least make the playoffs again.
Those plans were, of course, ruined when Chicago chose to trade Butler on draft night and initiate a rebuild under Fred Hoiberg. Wade's role in Chicago went from making the playoffs to a veteran leader for the young players in a span of two days. Heat, the team he played for 13 seasons, are, of course, always a potential landing spot.for Wade immediately after the Butler trade. If he were to receive a buyout, then where would he go? The
On Tuesday, the Clippers reached a one-year, $1.5 million agreement with big man Willie Reed. Reed chose L.A. instead of rejoining Miami, which still has a $4.3 million mid-level exception available, but Pat Riley has indicated he doesn't have plans to use it right now. It's possible that the Heat could use that to bring Wade back to Miami after a buyout. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Heat have no interest in bringing back Wade on a big-money deal. However, a smaller contract could change how they view a reunion.
While the Heat had no interest in bringing back Wade on a big-money deal, there likely would be Heat interest in Wade at a lower salary. Miami's level of interest would depend, in part, on need at the time.
Miami is loaded at guard, with five veteran players, but has not ruled out a Wade return at some point.
This sounds like the perfect deal. Wade gets bought out by a Bulls team that wants to focus on acquiring younger talent and then he returns to the franchise that he made his name at. Everybody is happy, right? Well, not exactly. Chicago currently has no plans to buy out Wade. In fact, it hasn't even been discussed. For the Bulls, the only reason they would agree to a buyout is if it benefits them in some way. In other words, he has to give up more money or be involved in a trade. Via ESPN:
I know [general manager] Gar [Forman] has spoken to Leon Rose, Dwyane's agent," Paxson said. "As far as a buyout, it has not been broached. I will say this, that in this type of scenario, it would have to benefit us. It would absolutely have to benefit us.
Wade isn't going to give up enough money in a buyout and nobody, at this point, wants to trade for Wade's $24 million salary. This appears to leave the two sides locked into Wade finishing out his stint in Chicago. However, a Wade return to Miami isn't entirely out of the question yet. It just won't be likely to happen until closer to the trade deadline.
If Chicago decides it would rather move on from Wade, then it will spend the first half of the season pitching him around. If there are not suitors on the trade market, then there will be an inclination to buy out Wade before March 1. Any player waived after March 1 will not be eligible to play in the playoffs. This makes January and February the most likely time for a Wade buyout to occur and that's when the Heat would get what is really their only chance at bringing him back this season.
Miami could choose to trade for Wade, but that's a lot of salary to move. A buyout followed by a sign-and-trade is virtually not possible either. Per Larry Coon's CBA FAQ, "After a buyout in which the player's guaranteed salary is reduced, the team cannot re-sign the player or claim him of waivers for one year, or until the waived contract would have ended, whichever is later."
This leaves Miami with only one very brief opportunity to bring Wade back to Miami. That said, if his close friend LeBron James and the Cavaliers are in the middle of another NBA Finals run there would be nothing stopping Wade from pairing up with James again. They can't convince the Bulls to buy him out unless it's of benefit to them. Chicago executives strongly believe he's going to finish out the season in town because the chances of him ending up anywhere else feels incredibly complicated.
If the Heat really are hanging on to their mid-level exception for Wade, then they might want to use it on something else. There are just too many factors to rely on in hopes that he does end up there by the end of the season.
Although Dion Waiters and Wade have been flirting back and forth on social media about a potential Miami hookup, the Wade-Miami reunion talks should be put to rest until there are reports that the Bulls and Wade had engaged in buyout talks. For now, all indications are that he will play in Chicago until the Bulls don't want him in Chicago any longer. Wade's future sounds pretty set for the time being.