When Jimmy Butler was traded on draft night, the clock was ticking on Dwyane Wade who had just opted in hours earlier to the last year of a two year deal. It wasn’t a surprise that Wade would rather swim blindfolded with killer whales than risk $24 million, particularly at his age. He is already a three time champion, albeit at the back end of his career and no longer able to lead a team on his own. This may be his last huge payday and so he jumped in the deep end of a marginal team’s icy waters only to find that the team’s best player was going to be in Minnesota. Hello lottery, Chicago Bulls. 2000 is here again.
By everyone’s accounting, Wade is going to have a short stay in his hometown. Wade with a bunch of kids as teammates makes no sense. Not for Wade. Not for the kids who are developing and despise him. It isn’t fair to either one to have a volatile mix inclusive of a veteran who has won everything and millennials who are newbies. A buyout is looming.
But the Bulls like to lie about what their strategy is. They constantly worked the back channels trying to trade Jimmy Butler and then denied it. Gar Forman and John Paxson work a narrative like a politician works the spin room. They wanted everyone to know that Fred Hoiberg and Jimmy Butler got along just fine when the opposite was true. Butler wasn’t shy about his Hoiberg critique. Then, surprise surprise Butler was gone. In the aftermath of an impulsive deal that netted them torn ACL Zach Levine, Dwyane Wade had no reason to stay, even with a $24 million dollar payday. Wade didn’t sign up for rebuilding. But the Bulls insisted there was no buyout.
Reports out of Chicago early this week refute that. A buyout is on the table.
Wade has interest in two teams. Cleveland and Miami. It makes sense for both. Cleveland will get Wade into the Finals and a chance at title number four and one last shot at playing with LeBron. Miami will give Wade his final farewell, and a Kobe like tour. He will end his career in the city he elevated and consecrated.
Both can happen. Both probably will happen. Cleveland first. LeBron has a year left before he is a free agent and says his final goodbye to Cleveland. And then Wade, a free agent, will head back to Miami to finish out his last NBA days.
A few detractors want to turn the Wade page, arguing he inhibits the development of the young. He is hard on them with his tough love. Their lazy habits annoy him and he has no filter. Furthermore, with Wade, a Future Hall of Famer, the team is all about him and everyone defers. Water flows down river more than upriver. Wade is the center. But since the Heat aren’t contenders, Wade, in whatever form the Heat can get him will be a plus or so his apologists believe. His experience and work ethic alone are invaluable. However, there is this small caveat. In Chicago last season, Rajon Rondo was critical of Wade and Jimmy Butler, that they were too hard on the younger players which hurt their confidence and created animosity which divides teams. Specifically, Wade didn’t make young players better with his criticism and lack of patience.
If the Heat get Wade back in a year, this is the player they will get. Dwyane Wade didn’t make the All-Star team in February. And he was injured again. In 2016-17, he was a 43% scorer (31% from three) who could no longer lead a team by himself.
It has been three years since Wade played in a NBA Final. He has not appeared in a NBA Final without a generational player, one of the NBA’s best at his position. Either it was Shaquille O’Neal or LeBron James partnering with Wade for 5 NBA Finals appearances. But O’Neal and James have appeared in 9 NBA Finals without Wade. Wade has been to 0 NBA Finals without them.
Yes, he scored almost 19 points a game this past season but he isn’t an All-Star shooting guard anymore. James Harden, Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal, C.J. McCollum are all better than Wade. This past season were career lows: minutes, field goal percentage, two-point percentage, free throws, free throw attempts, assists. He had the worst PER since his rookie year. He had the worst scoring output since his rookie year.
Dwyane Wade, on the season, was a -2.5. The last time his plus/minus wasn’t underwater was his last year playing with LeBron James.
Dwyane Wade had an offensive rating of 103. It has been three years since Wade has had a 110+ offensive rating and that was when he was partner to LeBron James. (Dion Waiters had an offensive rating of 101 and a +2.9).
But none of that matters to the Heat who may reunite with Wade in one more year and take the good with bad. Circles need to close. If it happens, the hero will come home where he belongs. He will retire in Miami. The beginning will be the end. The champion will be celebrated and the young players will suck it up like the L.A. kids did with Kobe.
Wade. Miami. Wait for it.
photo via llananba