Dwyane Wade isn’t committing to anything right now.
The 12-time All-Star left the Heat after 13 seasons this past summer to sign with the Bulls on a two-year, $47 million contract. But with a player option for the second year worth $23.8 million, Wade isn’t sure what the future holds for him beyond this season.
At 35 years old, Wade admitted that Chicago’s mediocrity would impact his decision to pick up the player option or not. The Bulls own the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot with a 23-23 record.
“I wouldn’t lie to you and say no,” Wade said to reporters Tuesday. “Of course. I can’t play this game forever. I just turned 35 and I have a number in my head how long I want to play. At the end of the day you want to be in a situation where it’s a competitor situation, whatever the case may be. It’s tough in this league as well because a lot of that also depends on how much money you’re willing to make. It depends on what city you’re willing to be in. So it’s a lot of variables to that, but no question about it, what happens throughout this year, as I go into my summer, I’ll definitely take a look at it. I take my career seriously and where I am and where I want to be. And I will do the same thing this summer.”
More specifically, Wade told ESPN last week that Jimmy Butler’s future with the organization will play a big factor in his decision. Butler, who is seen as the Bulls’ most valuable asset, has been at the center of trade rumors for more than a year.
“… One of the main reasons I’m here is Jimmy,” Wade said to ESPN last week. “He’s the one who called me and got me to come here. So that’s a big part of my decision and everything else, is what Jimmy’s doing, what his future looks like and all that. And I’ve made it very clear. So I have no idea from that standpoint. You just have to wait and see and then see what works out.”
The question is would Wade, who is averaging 18.8 points on a career-low 42.3 percent shooting this season, walk away from $23.8 million? That’s probably more money than he would get in free agency this summer if he turns down the player option.
If winning is so important to Wade, why did he emphasize that he’s not “ring chasing” when he was asked why he didn’t join the Cavaliers this past summer? Because there’s a fine line between wanting to win and taking a huge discount to do it.
“I mean the reason I said that was they asked me a question about going to the Cavs this summer, and I said, well I think they had like $2.4 million [for me],’’ Wade said to reporters Tuesday. “It ain’t that bad. It ain’t that bad for me now. I do have three rings. I mean I wasn’t willing to do that now. Not at all, not at this point. That’s what I meant. In the sense that when you’re a veteran guy, you’re older, some guys have taken those sacrifices. David West last year. He gave all of his money back to San Antonio. That’s something that he wanted to do. He wanted to put himself in position to win a ring. I have three, I’ve been in five Finals, so I don’t need to that.
“But it is a time where you want to be on a team that can compete too, so it’s just a fine line between what you really want. This summer [signing with Cleveland was] not what I wanted.’’
If you’re hoping for Wade to come back to the Heat, it’s not completely out of the question. But Wade would have to take a big discount from the $23.8 million player option he would need to turn down to become a free agent this summer.
And Miami hasn’t exactly been the competitive situation Wade is looking for this season. The Heat are currently at the bottom of the standings with a 15-30 record.
But Miami should have money to spend this summer. Miami could have about $40 million in cap space if it is able to clear Chris Bosh’s contract off its salary cap, and Dion Waiters and Willie Reed opt out of their contracts as expected with more money likely available in free agency.
Considering the Heat didn’t want to give Wade the money he was looking for last offseason, it’s hard to imagine they want to use a big chunk of that cap space on him this summer.
“You just never know how it’s going to shake out,” Wade said Tuesday of the upcoming offseason. “Obviously I’m not happy being [23-23] or whatever the case may be or will be, but there are things I’m happy with. I’m happy with Jimmy [Butler’s] growth and our relationship. I’m happy with the organization and how they’ve approached things, but I’m not happy with our record. But no one on this team is. But it’s months away before I concern myself with that, so I’ll figure it out later.’’