If former Heat guard Dwayne Wade was looking for clarity on Wednesday about what type of team will surround him if he returns to the Chicago Bulls next season, he didn’t get it.
And that leaves Wade’s future, including any possibility of a Heat reunion, very much unresolved.
Five days after Wade was non-committal about whether to exercise his $23.8 million option for next season, Bulls management would not rule out trading Jimmy Butler, whose presence was one of several factors that made Chicago appealing to Wade when his negotiations with the Heat broke down last summer.
“It is a Dwyane Wade decision at the end of the day, but everyone knows that Jimmy’s my guy,” Wade said Saturday of his looming option decision that must be made before the July 1 start of free agency.
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The Bulls’ decision regarding Butler likely will affect Wade’s decision, with neither the Heat nor Wade having ruled out a reunion for the team with which he spent his first 13 professional seasons.
But a source with knowledge of the Heat’s thinking said if Wade opts out and the Heat pursues him - and that’s no guarantee Miami would - he would need to be open to a substantial pay cut and be receptive to a potential bench role.
The Heat will have $38 million in cap space and is expected to pursue a small group of elite, in-their-prime free agents or trade targets and try to resign James Johnson and Dion Waiters before considering players such as Wade, if Wade exercises his opt-out.
Wade, meanwhile, tweeted on Wednesday: “Back home in Miami,” with a reference to one of his automobile sponsors.
When asked on Wednesday about Butler’s future with the organization, Bulls vice president/basketball operations John Paxson said, “You always have to keep things open.’’
Paxson said the Bulls would love to “go out and get another superstar player to put with him, but with the salaries we have, it’s difficult to manage.’’
Paxson said he planned to talk with Butler eventually.
“He can say anything to us,’’ Paxson said. “We can say anything to him.’
Later, Paxson pointed out that Butler isn’t the type of player who fits the push-the-pace style that coach Fred Hoiberg wants to play.
K.C. Johnson, the Chicago Tribune’s Bulls beat writer, tweeted this takeaway: “Bulls won’t trade Butler just to say “let’s rebuild” but absolutely would do full rebuild if right offer for Butler came.”
But Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom said it sounds like Butler is on the market.
Paxson, incidentally, said he expects to retain point guard Rajon Rondo.
Without being asked specifically about the Heat on Saturday, Wade, 35, said of a possible bench role: “I’m an open-minded person. I’m always open to a lot of things. That’s never been presented to me. I’ve never had that, but I will never be a person that says, ‘Oh, never.’ I’m always open. If it’s the right situation, you know what, you do what’s best for the team and yourself. I’m an open-minded individual.”
Wade said on Saturday that he does not regret his decision to sign with the Bulls, though an associate has said he would be open to an eventual return to Miami under the right circumstances. He said he hasn’t decided whether to opt out.
“I haven’t sat down and thought about it 100 percent yet,” he said. “It’s more so when they come to me with their vision of where they’re going, if I feel I can be a big part of it and be comfortable with it. I don’t know. I haven’t wrote it down yet, where I can sit back and say these are my pros and cons, which I do. I’ve been doing it since college. But I haven’t done it yet. I don’t have to do it now. I have at least a month before I have to start thinking that way.
“I’m sure it will be a few weeks, when they get all the information they need and kind of put the draft hat on, and all the other things together. But at some point, we will sit down and talk and I’ll see what direction they’re going in, and make a decision.
“I’m not a predictable person, I don’t think. I don’t know. It’s not a bad thing for me. I’m in a good situation. Whether there’s a lot of options or not, I’m in a very good situation.
“As a player, you can decide what you want to do. And I have a lot of money to decide if I want to take it or not. It’s not a bad thing, because I worked my butt of for it over my career, so no rush in my mind. I don’t have to think about it right now. I’ve got at least a month before my mind starts going there.”
Wade said playing for a new team this season required “a lot of adjustments. It took me a long time to get the jersey to fit right, you know. It’s all a part of the journey, man. It’s all about the story of life, so I appreciate it all.
“Obviously it was different. If I could say anything, if there’s one word I could pull out, it’s just different. I expected it to be different. I only played in one organization my entire career, but the biggest thing is I came here and I was embraced. not only by the city, by up top. I was embraced by the coaches, the players, and it was some good moments and some bad moments, just like every season. But I don’t regret my decision at all.
“Losing, it’s never easy, especially when you’ve won championships before. Whenever you lose it always sucks, but you sit back and reflect on the positive, you look at the things that came out of it, and there’s always some good, more than bad. When you’re playing basketball for money at the top level, it’s not all bad. I definitely don’t regret my decision of being here this season.”
Because Pat Riley and the Heat do due diligence on all potentially available All-Star players, the Heat figures to at least explore the possibility of a trade for Butler, who’s due $18.9 million next season and $19.8 million in 2018-19, with a $19.8 million player option in 2019-20.
But it’s questionable if the Heat would have the assets to appeal to the Bulls. As would be the case for a trade pitch for Indiana’s Paul George, any offer likely would need to start with Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson or Tyler Johnson or possibly both, and the Heat’s No. 1 draft pick, which cannot be traded before the draft.
This is my fourth post today, with another on the way.
For a look at one strange aspect of Derek Jeter’s plan to run the Marlins’ baseball operations department and other Marlins sales notes, please click here.
For a look at more big names dumped by ESPN, and a big one coming on board, plus media notes, please click here.
For news on UM recruiting, Mark Walton’s NFL future and more Hurricanes posts, please click here.
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