K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune is reporting Sunday night that Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls have agreed to a buyout, a move that will immediately make Wade a free agent. This was an inevitability virtually the moment the Bulls completed the Jimmy Butler trade back in June.
Woj says the early frontrunners to land Wade in free agency are Cleveland, San Antonio, and Miami, with the Thunder as an outside possibility.
It’s been a busy weekend for the Bulls; they also inked Nikola Mirotic to a two-year, $26 million contract. With those contracts settled, almost nothing that happens over Chicago’s next 82 games matters, except that the Bulls lose a lot, earn a high draft spot, and enter next offseason with as much cap space as possible. The cap environment in summer 2018 will be every bit as brutal as it was this summer, and the Bulls will be way out in front of the field with somewhere close to $50 million in salary cap space to offer around.
As for this season, they’re gonna have to sign someone, at some point, or they’ll run into a different kind of trouble:
What isn’t totally clear is whether the Bulls are looking well down the road, at a 76ers-style multi-year rebuild, or believe they can convert next year’s cap space into a free agency splurge. Had they finished these two transactions earlier in the summer, they could’ve theoretically used their existing cap space to jump into restricted free agency, or to buy up bad contracts in order to gather juicy draft picks. That they waited as long as they did probably means they intend to use the cap space aggressively next summer. A Wade buyout was always coming, but waiting as long as they did cost them their best chance of using the savings this summer, on players or draft assets that might serve their long-term interests.
Given the decline in his performance, is anyone all that sure that Wade fits in especially well on any of the teams reportedly among his top choices? His scoring efficiency has dropped significantly in each of his last four seasons, and Chicago’s net rating in 2017 was more than four points better when he was off the floor, according to NBA.com stats. Wade hasn’t been a good defender in literally years, and he’s been a non-shooter his entire career. He’s probably unplayable in a Cavs-Warriors Finals series, for the same reasons he’d probably be unplayable in a Spurs-Warriors playoff series; he and Goran Dragic had awful on-court chemistry when he was last on the Heat, and the Heat now play a relentless, up-tempo style that pretty much has no use for him on either end; and there is just no way the Thunder can use him unless they are allowed to play with multiple basketballs at a time.
Wade will find a spot somewhere, but his new team shouldn’t expect a whole lot. When a team is willing to pay you $15 million to go away, your days as a quality player are probably over.