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Why There’s a Good Chance Dwyane Wade Will Be in Cleveland Next Season
- Updated: June 23, 2017
After the Chicago Bulls allowed themselves to be fleeced, trading guard Jimmy Butler and the 16th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Minnesota Timberwolves for guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn and the seventh pick, the writing on the wall turned a bright fluorescent.
The dreaded rebuild was coming and in a hurry.
The Bulls selected Arizona Wildcats stretch forward Lauri Markkane to form a young nucleus with an explosive but ACL-recovering LaVine and Dunn, the passing and defensive whiz. What this means for the rest of the roster is unknown, but it’s clear that the now-Baby Bulls are in flux. All of this suggests that, while he’s opted into his final contract year at $24 million, guard Dwyane Wade isn’t likely to be a part of this teardown.
Even ESPN’s Jemele Hill and league insider Nate Duncan made immediate mentions, following the lopsided trade.
Countdown to D Wade joining the Cavs … I'll give it to December-January
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 23, 2017
Meanwhile, Dwyane Wade and the Bulls can start buyout negotiations right now.
— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) June 22, 2017
He can’t finish his long and illustrious career as some old guy that a rebuilding franchise is just wanting to drop off its ledger or flip for pennies on the dollar. No, Wade will likely finish his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, with a much-publicized negotiated buyout — an outcome you can see coming from a mile away.
There are two sticking points to this possibility: Would the Bulls even come to the table ready to work with such a request, and would the 35-year-old actually help the Cavs?
A Chicago Sun-Times report quoted an unnamed Bulls source, about the rumor of Wade possibly requesting a buyout: “We truly believe that Dwyane will handle the situation professionally.”
All that suggests is that they hope Wade doesn’t make a big fuss, especially if the Bulls are unwilling to release him amicably. Willing to work with the growing pains of youth, he would be an ideal veteran player for such a young group, which the Bulls front office knows. The fact is that if the Bulls were to move on from Wade, they’d prefer a trade for something of value, say a late pick, a stash player, or a castaway from a team overloaded with positional talent.
Let’s say assume the Bulls place no roadblocks in Wade’s departure, how does he help the Cavs?
First, he’d upgrade the “playmaker” position that LeBron James had coveted this past season. He showed he can still play in limited stretches, averaging 18.3 points per game in less than 30 minutes a contest last year. Cavs guard Deron Williams, who’s likely to move on, was awful in every context in last year’s NBA Finals, never flashing his offensive talent for longer than a few plays at a time. Wade wouldn’t be much of an upgrade defensively, especially in one-on-one situations, but his offensive basketball IQ and leveraging of experience is still top notch. James would have one more role player able to occasionally find his own shot and provide quality looks for others — a quality the Cavs desperately need.
Additionally, any sort of breakout would be a luxury, and he’d likely be a net positive player even if his 35-year-old body doesn’t allow him to wheel and deal as he did in his prime.
All of this said, adding Wade alone wouldn’t make the Cavs a threat to beat the stacked Golden State Warriors of course. However, it would provide a proper send-off, with the future Hall of Fame talent finishing his career alongside his good friend, likely coming up clutch in big games.