Bulls facing decision with Dwyane Wade

Bulls guard Dwyane Wade speaks at his introductory press conference July 29, 2016. Wade signed a two-year contract with the Bulls with a player option in the second year. 

Bulls guard Dwyane Wade speaks at his introductory press conference July 29, 2016. Wade signed a two-year contract with the Bulls with a player option in the second year. 

By Julian Nunnery

The Chicago Bulls must move guard Dwyane Wade to another team at some point during or before the upcoming 2017-2018 season. The remaining questions of this process are how and when the Bulls will take action.

On Jun. 20, Wade told the front office he’s decided to opt into the second year of his player option contract that will guarantee him nearly $24 million, according to a Jun. 27 ESPN article. With that amount of money owed, the Bulls may only be able to move Wade by reaching a contract buyout agreement with the three-time champion.

A buyout of Wade’s contract will most likely cost the Bulls somewhere between $17 and $18 million. The more pertinent issue however, is that Wade has yet to have any buyout discussions with the team.

“When the time is right for me and the Bulls to sit down and talk about the future, we will do that,” said Wade, according to a Sept. 8 Bleacher Report. “The time hasn’t been right obviously to this point.”

At age 35, Wade no longer fits the mold for the direction that the team’s management has decided to go in. On Jun. 22, two days after Wade opted into the second year of his player option deal, the Bulls traded guard Jimmy Butler and their No. 16 overall pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In return, the Bulls received guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn and Minnesota’s seventh overall pick which they used to select rookie forward Lauri Markkanen.These moves clearly indicated the Bulls have now entered rebuilding mode.

Before deciding to opt into his player option with the Bulls this season, Wade reportedly received assurances from the team they would remain competitive in the eastern conference, according to a Sept. 6 Bleacher Report.

The Bulls subsequent trade moves likely caused Wade to lose trust in the team’s front office and desire to play for them this season. However, this would be a good thing for the Bulls if they decide to pursue a contract buyout agreement with Wade at some point during the next few months.

This is not the first time Wade has had issues with team personnel. After the Bulls’ Jan. 25 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Wade was benched after questioning the commitment of his teammates in a post-game interview.

“I don’t know if people [on this team] care enough,” said Wade, according to a Jan. 27 Bleacher Report. “It just doesn’t mean enough to guys around here [and] it pisses me off. It shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts these young guys. They have to want it.”

Criticising the effort and motivation of young players on the team through the media is not the right way to handle difficult situations. With the Bulls getting even younger this season, Wade is not the leader the team needs and the Bulls should do what they can to send him packing.

As a potentially valuable piece for a title-contending or up-and-coming team, Wade would presumably be willing to come to a reasonable buyout agreement. If that agreement can be reached, Wade will become an unrestricted free agent.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and Wade’s former team, the Miami Heat, have all expressed interest in the 12-time all-star. With Cavaliers forward LeBron James still under contract for another season with the Cavaliers, Cleveland may be the front-runner as a landing spot for Wade.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the two future Hall-of-Famers ended up re-uniting on the Cavs to attempt another championship run like the ones they had with the Heat in 2012 and 2013.

Whatever the future holds for the aging Wade, it is in both parties’ best interest to part ways in the 2017-18 season.