It appears times are changing in Chicago for the Bulls after they spent the majority of the off-season revamping their roster to compete in the Eastern Conference this season.
As it stands right now, the Bulls are a playoff team, but as the 7th seed that could change very quickly. The Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat trail the Bulls for the 7th spot by just 2 games, while the Charlotte Hornets set a three back.
After the trade the Bulls made yesterday that sent Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson to the Oklahoma City Thunder, it is certainly possible that the Bulls could slide a bit even though Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade remain with the team. Speaking of Wade, Nick Friedell of ESPN believes that the Bulls wouldn’t mind if Wade wasn’t on the team next season:
Unclear what will happen with Wade. Bulls know he has an option for next year, but I don't think they mind if he, and his contract $, walked— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) February 24, 2017
The 35-year-old Wade is earning a base salary of $23.2 million this season in his first season with the Bulls, and that salary will rise to $23.8 million next year if he chooses to opt-in. Wade is on record for saying that Butler’s future with the Bulls also depends on whether or not he will opt-in, because Wade doesn’t want to be apart of a rebuilding project.
“At the end of the year, you sit back and see what the team is, what direction they’re going in,” Wade told ESPN. “I would be a liar to say that I want to play on a team with all 21-year-olds. You know what I mean? And be a part of the future building. I would be a fool to say that. But you also want to be in the best position for what you think is for you at that time, too.
“… One of the main reasons I’m here is Jimmy. He’s the one who called me and got me to come here. So that’s a big part of my decision and everything else, is what Jimmy’s doing, what his future looks like and all that. And I’ve made it very clear. So I have no idea from that standpoint. You just have to wait and see and then see what works out.”
“I’ve enjoyed my time here. It’s been a learning experience, it’s been challenging and it’s been cool all in the same. I feel — for my career, for me — I needed this. I needed to see what the other side was like, too. … But I’m definitely very open and honest that Jimmy is one of the reasons I’m here from a basketball standpoint and, as we sit here right now, he’s here, I’m here, we’re happy. You don’t know what’s to go from there.”
As Friedell noted, it is unclear as to which direction Wade will go this summer. A big reason why he left the Miami Heat was because he didn’t feel he was being compensated by Heat president Pat Riley enough, and the Heat, Bulls and the Denver Nuggets were the only teams that offered Wade $20 million-plus annually, per reports.
Wade has said in the past that he could only see himself ever playing in Miami and Chicago, but he may have to alter that if both the Bulls and the Heat are uninterested in bringing Wade back. It is unclear at this time how interested the Heat would be in bringing back the 3-time champion.
In regards to Wade’s performance on the court this season, he’s averaging 19.1 points. 4.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game this season while shooting 43% from the field, 32% from three-point range, and 79% from the free throw line.
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