Dwyane Wade is going home and spurning his adopted home in the process. After playing his entire career in Miami, Wade has agreed to a deal with the Chicago Bulls, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. The deal is confirmed.
Just got a message from Dwyane Wade: "it's real."— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 7, 2016
Wade will sign a two-year, $47.5 million deal with Chicago, according to CSN Chicago's Vincent Goodwill, with a player option for the second year (via Wojnarowski). No team offered Wade a fully guaranteed third year, according to Wojnarowski.
The agreement required the Bulls to trade away some players to clear up enough cap space, which they quickly did. They will trade Mike Dunleavy's $4.8 million contract to the Cleveland Cavaliers (yes, LeBron James' Cavaliers), who will use a trade exception, according to Wojnarowski and K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Meanwhile, they will send Jose Calderon ($7.7 million) to the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Wojnarowski.
Wade paid tribute to his time in Miami in a series of tweets on Thursday.
The hardest part was leaving u guys. Y'all have supported me thru all my UPs but most importantly my DOWNS.— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 7, 2016
I'm gonna miss running to the end corners of the court and the scorers table yelling "This is MY House!!!"— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 7, 2016
But Miami-Dade County to me..will always be Wade County!!!— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 7, 2016
I'll miss all my youngins but UD and CB I will miss like no other. I Love you both beyond words. #Brothersforlife— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 7, 2016
Few expected Wade to leave the Heat this summer or even ever, but negotiations went sour early on and never improved. Pat Riley said before the offseason that the franchise's first priority was to bring back Hassan Whiteside, not Wade. Later on, Wade's camp claimed that Miami's front office had offered him $10 million annually, something the Heat's brass denies. Miami then upped the offer to two years and $40 million, but could not go any higher given their cap situation and were unwilling to offer a third year.
The Bulls, who had been linked to Wade when he was a free agent in 2010, took advantage of that rift to land the star shooting guard. A Chicago native, Wade prioritized going back home while also getting more financial security, as the Bulls offered a partially guaranteed third year in his contract, something his other suitors were reluctant to do. That was enough to sway the three-time NBA champion to pick them over the Bucks and Nuggets.
How will Wade fit in Chicago?
Wade is joining a roster that is in flux. Derrick Rose was recently traded to the Knicks, while Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah left in free agency. He will likely share a backcourt with Rajon Rondo while Jimmy Butler moves to small forward. Those are three ball-dominant players and only Butler is a decent three-point shooter, so second-year coach Fred Hoiberg will have to figure out how to get everyone touches while preventing the offense from becoming too predictable.
The Bulls, however, believe the presence of Wade will make them a more attractive destination when they enter next summer with enough cap space to sign a maximum-contract player. They have sat out free agency thus far, but it was hard for them to do better than Wade anyway.
How good is Wade at this stage of his career?
Last summer, Wade signed a one-year, $20 million contract with the Heat that positioned him to receive a new deal this offseason as the salary cap increased. The 34-year-old guard spent the year proving that his game, while not quite where it was at his peak, still places him among the better players in the NBA. He had a number of big moments in the playoffs in leading Miami to the brink of the conference finals despite injuries to Chris Bosh and Whiteside.
In 74 regular season games -- his most in a season since 2010-11 -- Wade averaged 19 points, 4.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. He shot a career-low 45.6 percent from the field and basically ditched the three-pointer until the playoffs, but overall was still an efficient and effective scorer.
The resurgence was encouraging for Wade, who missed an average of 19.5 games per year over the previous four seasons. While his knees will be a source of concern for the remainder of his career, Wade has shown that he can still be a major contributor for a team aiming to play deep into the postseason.
Some of Wade's best performances in 2015-16 came in the playoffs, where the Heat played 14 games in just two rounds. Wade buried clutch shot after clutch shot to help the Heat really from a 3-2 series deficit in the first round against the Hornets to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He then led Miami to a crucial Game 6 victory against the Raptors to force a deciding Game 7 in that series. Toronto went on to a 116-89 victory and the matchup with the Cavaliers in the conference finals, but the Heat's veteran star was fantastic throughout the run.
Wade averaged 21.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in the playoffs, and even found his shooting touch by going 12-of-23 from three. That success from deep was especially incredible given that Wade shot 7-of-44 from beyond the arc during the entire regular season. For a player who carved out a reputation as a clutch scorer during his prime years with the Heat, this was the latest example that Wade can still take his game to different levels in the biggest moments.
What now for Chicago?
The move doesn't make the Bulls contenders but it does up their talent level at the wing. More importantly, it makes them intriguing in a season that seemed like it was going to be lost as they transitioned from the Rose era. Sure, there will be questions about spacing with a Rondo-Wade backcourt and this is a serious investment in terms of money, but the Bulls simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to bring Wade home.
Wade's addition to Chicago's starting lineup, likely at the expense of Doug McDermott, immediately upgrades the team's defense. Butler, Rondo and Wade can still buzz around the perimeter with length that will be tough on opposing guards, and you can expect the team to rack up steals. McDermott was a mess defensively as a rookie, and now he doesn't have to play nearly as big a role next season while he continues to develop that part of his game.
The real questions with this signing come on the offensive side. Rondo and Wade might be the worst three-point shooting starting backcourt in the league entering the season. An offense built on their ability to penetrate and create chances could be effective, but the Bulls are going to need to find lineups that can score efficiently when defenses are backing off two of their primary ball handlers. Hoiberg has been given a lot of talent with Wade, but he's also got a major task in figuring out how to best use it.
Casual fans will surely love to see the future Hall of Famer wearing a Bulls uniform, even in his mid-30s, and Wade's far from done anyway. Putting aside concerns about his long-term health and fit, this addition makes the Bulls a more interesting team.
What now for Miami?
You can expect Riley to move quickly to replace a franchise icon, but there isn't much left on the market. Riley could use his cap space to swing a trade for a veteran, but the Heat have already sacrificed most of their assets in a deal for Goran Dragic and don't have many other players to trade, except in the unlikely scenario that they're willing to deal promising rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson.
The Heat will therefore be a thin team around Dragic, Whiteside and Chris Bosh, should the latter even be able to play after seeing a second straight season cut short due to blood clot issues. They have already lost Luol Deng and Joe Johnson, and now they've lost their crunch-time scorer and top perimeter option.
It will also be interesting to see how South Florida residents assign blame to Wade's departure. Will they turn on their hero because he didn't show loyalty to the franchise, or will they blame Riley for disrespecting Wade with one too many low-ball contract offers? How will they respond to rumors that LeBron James indirectly interfered to help make his friend whole financially?
Either way, this is the start of a new era and the end of what turned into a bitterly disappointing summer. Miami began the offseason with dreams of keeping Whiteside, entering the Kevin Durant sweepstakes and still securing Wade. They'll end the summer with only one of the three and the best player in franchise history departing with bitter feelings.