• Matthew Shear

Could Wade’s Run with the Bulls Be Over?

It was announced last week that Dwyane Wade would miss the remainder of the regular season with a sprained and fractured right elbow. The injury came during a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies after Wade got tangled up with Zach Randolph and Cristiano Felicio going for a rebound in the fourth quarter. D-Wade said he “heard a couple of pops,” during the incident. He tried to play after the mix up, but the pain became too much. An MRI the following day confirmed the severity of the injury.

Flash has already said he would return for the playoffs, but the Bulls are currently sitting in ninth place in the east, and a half game back from the final playoff spot. Without Wade, one of their more consistent players this season, it’s uncertain whether Chicago’s year will even extend past the regular season. If the Bulls do squeak into the playoffs this year, it will require a stretch of good basketball without Wade. Many would question the need to bring back the 35-year-old veteran for a likely first round matchup with the Cavaliers, especially if the team had been playing well enough without him to make the postseason.

So, with that said, the end of this season could mark the end of Dwyane Wade’s tenure with the Chicago Bulls. Wade has a $23.8 million player option for next season, but he could opt out to become a free agent for the second consecutive off-season, leaving the veteran guard a few options for next season. Staying with Chicago could very well be one, considering how much Wade has enjoyed playing with and mentoring Bulls’ star Jimmy Butler. D-Wade also has ties to the community in Chicago, where he grew up and recently established a foundation, Spotlight On, to work with disadvantaged youth in the city. Wade would also stand to receive the biggest salary of his career while continuing to enjoy a level of comfort in his hometown. These are factors that are hard to overlook.

Another path that many are pointing to as a possibility for Wade would be a return to the Miami Heat. The Heat struggled to structure a deal that would work under their salary cap restrictions last off-season, but it’s been estimated by Miami beat writer Ian Winderman of Sun-Sentinel.com that the team could have about $37 million to spend this summer. With this money, Miami could offer Wade the contract that he was originally looking for, allowing him to transition into retirement with the team he spent nearly his entire career with. It would only be fitting for Miami’s greatest player of all time.

Finally, others have speculated that Flash could try to win more championships by joining whatever contender wants to add him to their roster, most often suggesting a LeBron James and Wade reunion in Cleveland. Dwyane has already said that he has no interest in “ring chasing,” however.

Whether Wade stays or leaves, the year he just spent in Chicago will likely be remembered as a failure for many fans. Not only have the Bulls struggled to be average this season, there has been nothing but conflict between Chicago management, coaches, and players. Dwyane Wade often found himself in the middle of these tensions, including publicly called out his teammates with hopes of inspiring a mid-season surge from the rest of the squad, only to have them go 10-13 and fall to the tenth spot in the east.

It’s hard to determine what will happen this summer, but it would be hard to knock Wade for wanting out of the mess in Chicago. Bulls’ fans certainly appreciate what Flash tried to do with the team, but it just might be time to put us out of our misery.

Stats and info courtesy of SI.com, NBA.com, and the Chicago-Tribune.

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