While the leading free agency news continues to revolve around former league MVP Kevin Durant’s decision to bolt Oklahoma City in order to pursue titles in Golden State, there’s another story brewing that will impact multiple parties.
Future Hall of Fame guard Dwyane Wade decided to depart the Miami HEAT, an organization he has led to three titles since entering the league, to join his hometown Chicago Bulls.
Unlike Durant’s decision to join the Warriors, seemingly to win an elusive title, Wade’s choice comes down to what he viewed as disrespect from the only franchise he’s ever known.
Which side of the fence you sit on in this saga will likely depend on your viewpoint. But no matter the view when the smoke clears, there will be no winners here – only losers.
A couple of years ago, the HEAT had to endure the loss of four-time league MVP LeBron James in free agency, but this past season the club managed to flirt with an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
Sure, Miami’s bounce back can be attributed in large part to team president Pat Riley investing in a project such as center Hassan Whiteside or securing the talent of guard Goran Dragic. The seeds for a resurgence in Miami were planted by those moves made by Riley and the front office – along with persuading forward Chris Bosh to remain in town.
But what you can’t leave out of the equation is the bounce back of Wade over the past two campaigns. In four seasons with James, Wade missed a total of 80 regular season contests. At the end of James’ run with the HEAT, which concluded with four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, Wade looked to be finished as an elite level player.
However, last season Wade missed just nine games while averaging 19.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists per contest. And in the playoffs, Wade averaged 21.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and one block while shooting 52.2 percent from three-point range.
Although the club faces a bit of uncertainty with Bosh’s long-term health still cloudy, things appeared to be headed in the right direction after Whiteside agreed to terms early in free agency. The next logical step for Riley and company was securing Wade’s signature on a new deal. Doing so would place Miami in the upper echelon of the East, at least on paper, headed into next season.
But it didn’t come to fruition, as Wade opted to take a two-year deal worth $47 million in Chicago.
To be clear, the Bulls aren’t in a better position to win compared to Miami next season. The difference in total compensation package reportedly offered to Wade by the HEAT – $7 million less over two seasons – wasn’t an astronomical gap either.
There are no winners.
Wade goes to a new franchise, currently in a state of flux, in between retooling or rebuilding as he winds down an illustrious career. Miami loses the momentum the team had been building since James departed. Both parties miss out on one final title run together before Wade opts to hang up his high tops and the curtain closes forever.
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