Could Dwyane Wade be out of Chicago and back with the Heat faster than some initially thought?
ESPN Chicago Bulls beat writer Nick Friedell hinted at the possibility Wednesday with one sentence in his latest story about the Bulls being picked to finish with the worst record in the Eastern Conference and the franchise’s desire to tank the upcoming NBA season.
After writing last month that the widespread belief among team officials was that Wade, 35, wouldn’t give back enough money in a buyout of his $23.8 million contract to make it worth Chicago’s while (and that the odds remained high the 12-time All-Star would finish the season with the Bulls or wouldn’t be bought out until closer to the February trade deadline), Friedell switched gears a bit Wednesday saying Wade “isn’t long for the organization’s future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.”
The Heat, which are capped out, could offer Wade a $4.3 million exception. As our Barry Jackson reported last month, I too was told before the start of free agency the Heat would likely have interest in Wade at an affordable price and lesser role than when he helped lead the franchise to three NBA titles over his first 13 seasons in the league.
Certainly, Heat players would love to see that happen. Last month, Dion Waiters, who grew up a longtime fan of both Wade and Kobe Bryant, spent several days implying his interest in a Wade-Heat reunion with a series of emoji-driven tweets and retweets from Heat fans.
Wednesday, after Friedell’s one-liner regarding Wade began getting picked up by various news outlets center Hassan Whiteside chimed in with his take on the latest development regarding his old teammate. Heat fan and Miami Beach High alumnus Chad Johnson then added his two cents.
“Obviously D-Wade is a legend and somebody we’d all love to be around and learn from,” Heat guard Wayne Ellington said last month a few days after Waiters’ series of tweets regarding Wade. “Why wouldn’t we want D-Wade to be on our team?”
Heat captain Udonis Haslem told WQAM on Thursday morning he speaks with Wade every day. Haslem and Wade have been close friends since they entered the league together with the Heat and go on a sneaker promotional tour in China every summer.
“My advice to him is, ‘Hey, we’d love to have you, but take it one step at a time, take it one day at a time, and be involved with what’s going on with your family,” Haslem said. “I think the situation with Chicago and everything that’s going on, it’s just a frustrating situation on both sides.”
The Heat has six guards led by Waiters, point guard Goran Dragic, sixth man Tyler Johnson, three-point specialist Wayne Ellington, and defensive-minded and talented three-point shooters Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder.
If there’s one player the Heat could end up parting with thus creating room in the rotation for Wade, its likely Johnson, whose contract will balloon from $5.8 million this coming season to $18.9 million the following season.
Wade averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists for Chicago last season.
He also angered the Bulls locker room when he and Jimmy Butler called out teammates after a loss. They responded by saying they wanted Wade to practice more. Butler was traded on draft night, two days after Wade told the Bulls he was picking up his option for the upcoming season.
Assuming he’s bought out, Wade would have interest from some other teams besides the Heat.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, who are likely going to trade disgruntled All-Star guard Kyrie Irving before the start of the season, could make a push for Wade to try and make LeBron James happy in what some are saying will be his final season in Cleveland. With Irving gone, Wade could help fill a scoring role.
▪ ESPN’s panel of basketball experts predict the Heat will finish sixth in the Eastern Conference this coming season with a 44-38 record.
Boston, Cleveland, Washington, Milwaukee and Toronto were all picked to finish with better records than the Heat. Miami plays the Celtics, Cavs, Bucks and Raptors only three times this season and the rest of the Eastern Conference four times.
▪ Oddsmakers at Bovada announced Whiteside as a 250/1 longshot to win the NBA’s MVP award next season.
Those are the same odds Dirk Nowitzki, Andre Drummond, Dwight Howard and Jeff Teague have to bring home the league’s top individual honor. There are 34 players with better odds than Whiteside including centers Nikola Jokic (50/1) and Joel Embiid (50/1).
▪ Haslem visited Dolphins camp on Thursday and spoke to the team.
A longtime Dolphins and Hurricanes fan, Haslem, returning for a 15th season with the Heat, also got to hang out with coach Adam Gase and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.