Dwyane Wade’s frustration is evident.
The Bulls have lost five straight entering Monday’s game against the Hornets, falling out of the playoffs and one-half game behind the Heat. After Chicago’s latest loss, a 100-80 defeat to the Celtics on Sunday, Wade’s frustration poured out as he spoke to reporters.
When asked if the Bulls’ commitment to developing younger players in the middle of a playoff race is frustrating, Wade didn’t want to answer the question.
“I don’t know,” Wade said to reporters Sunday. “I wish upper management could be answering these questions because I’m tired of answering the same ones every game. I don’t know. I wish I had the answers, I don’t. I don’t want to say too much. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I just want to get out there and try to play, try to lead.
“Find a way that me and Jimmy (Butler) can be better to help these guys. We got to go look at the film, sit down with coach … we got to figure out a way for us to be better so we can help everybody else be better.”
This isn’t exactly the way Wade envisioned this season playing out when he left the Heat after 13 seasons to sign a two-year, $47 million contract with the Bulls this past summer. The contract includes a player option for the second season worth $23.8 million.
That’s an amount of money that Wade likely won’t get if he opts out and enters free agency this upcoming offseason. The 12-time All-Star is averaging 18.7 points on a career-low 43.4 percent shooting this season.
Wade has made it clear throughout the year that he’s not sure what the future holds for him beyond this season. At 35 years old, Wade admitted that Chicago’s mediocrity would impact his decision whether to pick up his player option or not.
“I wouldn’t lie to you and say no,” Wade said to reporters in January. “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.”
Sunday wasn’t the first time Wade has expressed his frustration this season. The future Hall of Famer sounded off after Chicago blew a 10-point lead in the final three minutes of a January home loss to the Hawks, questioning his teammates’ effort and desire.
“It just doesn’t mean enough for guys around here to want to win ballgames,’’ Wade said in January. “It pisses me off, but I can’t be frustrated and I can’t care too much for these guys. They have to care for themselves.
“I’m 35, I have three championships. It shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts these young guys. They have to want it. If they don’t want it, then we’ll show up and play Friday. Hopefully, we’ll win. If we don’t, then we go to dinner again and keep it going until the season is over. It has to change. It has to hurt inside to lose games like this. This (expletive) should (expletive) hurt.’’
For those comments, Wade was fined and benched for the start of Chicago’s Jan. 27 loss to Miami. So don’t expect Wade to call out his teammates again, even in the middle of a losing streak.
“I realized what my place was in this organization,” Wade said to reporters Sunday. “When I spoke out and said what I needed to say, it wasn’t taken highly [by the front office], so my job is to play. I have to be better on the basketball floor and I have to figure out a way to do that. Right now, just running pick-and-rolls all game, that ain’t it because [teams] are just watching us, unless somebody’s going to shoot step-back 3s all night.”
It’s going to be an interesting offseason for Wade.