Bulls complete final step to rebuild

By Khobi Price

The divorce between the Chicago Bulls and guard Dwyane Wade finally happened, and it’s a divorce that is necessary for both Wade and the Bulls organization to move forward.

Wade agreed to a buyout of approximately $15 million, which is about $8 million less than the value of his contract for the 2017-18 season.

One year after agreeing to a two-year, $47 million contract and only two months after Wade opted into the player option for his second year of the contact, he and the Bulls parted ways Sunday. The trade of guard Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves and the release of guard Rajon Rondo showed the Bulls were looking to move in a different, more youthful direction.

“What we’ve done [with the Wade trade] is set a direction,” Bulls Vice President John Paxson said, according to a June 26 Bleacher Report. “We’ve decided to make the change and rebuild this roster. We’re going to do it with young players we believe can play a system Fred [Hoiberg] is comfortable with.”

Wade, along with Butler and Rajon Rondo, were supposed to be the trio that led the team back to prosperity the franchise has lacked for the better part of a decade now.

Although a rebuild is in the best interest of the franchise, Wade made it clear he’d prefer to compete for championships rather than mentor the young Bulls players.

“It’s no secret we would all love to compete for a championship at the end of my career,” Wade said, according to a Sept. 8 Bleacher Report. “I’m not in a position right now to do that, so I can’t talk about what that preference is. Hopefully, one day before I’m done playing this game, I can be back in position to compete for a championship.”

Wade will no longer have to wait, as he agreed to rejoin forces with Lebron James as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wade has agreed to a one-year, $2.3 million deal to join the Cavaliers and make another run for an NBA Championship, according to a Sept. 26 Bleacher Report.

Believing the Bulls were decided on a new direction, Wade said James began recruiting him to the Cavaliers after the Bulls traded Butler on draft night, according to a Sept. 29 Bleacher Report.

Even though he’s certainly on the decline in his career, Wade can still bring value to a team as a sixth man or a starting role with limited minutes. He averaged 18.3 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game and 3.8 assists per game on 43.4 percent shooting, according to ESPN.

This buyout was the last step the Bulls needed to take to fully entrench themselves in the rebuild process. Wade and his large contract were going to be a waste of a roster spot and cap space for a team that didn’t have a purpose for using him. Wade’s arguably poor relationship with the younger players would’ve made him a bad choice of a player to guide the young roster this upcoming season.

“The young players on the Bulls really can’t stand [Wade],” said Nick Friedell, ESPN writer and Chicago Bulls beat reporter, according to an Aug. 23 Bleacher Report. “It’s no secret in Chicago [that] they’ve had enough [of Wade].”

The Bulls will no longer have to worry about appeasing the veterans on their roster. They can fully focus their attention on developing their young stars, including Zach LaVine, a two-time slam-dunk champion, guard Kris Dunn, 2016’s No. 5 draft pick, and Lauri Markannen, 2017’s No. 7 draft pick.

The Wade-Bulls marriage was a brief one. It was one that was cultivated out of desperation from both sides. And although neither can take back the time they had together, they eventually made the best decision for themselves; it’s never too late to do the right thing.

The Bulls will now have to be content with losing, with LaVine and Robin Lopez being, arguably, their best players. This team is destined to lose, and they just cleared the last roadblock that was getting in the way of that plan.

The Bulls will begin the preseason against the New Orleans Pelicans 7 p.m. Tuesday at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.