Dwyane Wade agrees to sign with the Chicago Bulls
After intense speculation and leanings towards various teams, Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat has agreed to sign with his hometown team, Chicago Bulls. The deal is worth $47.5 million and will likely be the last big contract which the 34-year-old superstar will sign.
Wade announced his decision in a letter thanking the Heat fans and organization. He said, “This was not an easy decision, but I feel I have made the right choice for myself and my family.” He added, “I look forward to returning to my roots and to what lies ahead.”
The Miami Heat had drafted Wade 3rd overall in the 2003 NBA Draft. Since then he’s helped the franchise win the title in 2006 by defeating the Dallas Mavericks in a gritty Finals performance. He had the top-selling jersey in the league for two years after the 2005 playoffs.
In 2010, Wade took a pay cut which enabled the Heat to sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Wade’s efforts at recruiting the two stars led the Miami Heat to two more championships in 2013 and 2014.
In 2008, the 12-time all-star led the USA Olympic team in scoring and helped win a gold medal in Beijing. Before the arrival of Wade, the Heat had never won even a conference title. He was the face of the franchise and had repeatedly expressed sentiments to retire in Miami.
Pat Riley had also fueled speculations that Wade would indeed be coming back to the Heat. He had said, “Compensation to a player is not just a way to get paid and to live your life. Compensation to a player is about recognition and respect and place. We know where he belongs. He’s a lifer. What he’s done in this city over the last 13 years is irreplaceable, and so we’re going to do the right thing.”
Pat Riley has long since been known as a hard-nosed executive with a history of rubbing his players the wrong way. In the offseason, the Heat went all out to try and sign Kevin Durant. When that failed, they felt that their immediate priority was to lock in Hassan Whiteside to a 4 year $98 million contract, which was the maximum that the Heat could offer him.
Relationships are important people!— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 4, 2016
Wade had opted to take less money in 2010 so that the Heat could sign James and Bosh. He had opted out of a $42 million deal and he was expecting to sign a lucrative deal in his waning years which would have reflected his contributions to the franchise. Initially, the Heat offered him a $10 million contract per season contract.
A year ago the Heat and Wade found themselves in a similar situation with the Heat lowballing Wade before owner Micky Arison stepped in and gave his superstar a $20 million contract. Wade had expressed a hope that this year the process would be smoother. He had said, "I hope that everything is quiet and works out the way I want it to. But I have no control over that, as much as people might think. It's a lot of moving parts in free agency. I'm not worried about it."
Kobe Bryant’s last contract was worth $48.5 million over 2 years. Dirk Nowitzki had recently signed a 2 year $40 million deal. Superstars who stuck with one franchise and helped bring a title had been rewarded in the twilight of their careers with lucrative contracts. Except for Tim Duncan, but his team has always been a contender.
It was rumored that the Heat revised their offer to 2 years and $20 million. But they were unwilling to add a third year to the contract. The Knicks, Bucks, Mavericks and the Nuggets were chasing Wade at this point, in addition to the Bulls.
The Bulls traded Jose Calderon to the Lakers to clear cap space to sign Wade. They had coveted Wade since he was drafted in 2003. He met with them in 2010 as well before re-signing with the Heat.
The Bulls have recently acquired Rajon Rondo as well. This makes their backcourt severely lacking in three-point shooting. The Bulls do have three all-stars in Rondo, Wade and Jimmy Butler who can make some noise in the postseason.