Hamlet, Shakespeare’s most famous hero, was known as the melancholy Dane. The Chicago Bulls’ shooting guard could be classified as a melancholy Dwyane.
Less “to be or not to be” than “to win or not to win” and “to stay or not to stay,” Wade shared some of the conflicts he’s been feeling in a dismal Bulls season after the morning shootaround Tuesday at the Amway Center. Wade and his team were in Orlando, not Miami, but that was enough to dredge up emotions seemingly left over from his unexpected departure from the Heat.
Since he surprised the NBA by spurning Miami’s $40 million offer over two years in favor of Chicago’s $47 million two-year deal – a financial gain of less than $4 million factoring in tax differences – Wade has maintained that his move was about returning to his hometown roots, helping the Bulls win, making an off-court impact among Chicago’s troubled youth and other reasons beyond wounded pride.
Listeners mostly have played along out of respect to Wade, although the poor fit within the Bulls’ roster – starting with the ball-dominant, 3-point challenged redundancies of Wade’s, Jimmy Butler’s and Rajon Rondo’s games – was glaring from the start. Chicago’s unreliable supporting cast and its inability to commit to a full rebuild figured to have the franchise stuck in the middle, which at 22-23 it certainly is.
That, along with the recent All-Star voting results – the fans voted for Wade to start, but now he might not be invited for the first time since 2004 – and maybe an extra dose of sports mortality after turning 35 last week, had the veteran musing, if not second-guessing himself. As reported by the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson:
…Wade’s current focus isn’t on the decision he faces this summer, when he owns a player option for the 2017-18 season at $23.8 million.
It’s about trying to get an up-and-down Bulls team to play with more consistency, both with his on-court play and off-court leadership
But whenever Wade does make that decision, the Bulls’ record, whatever it ultimately may be, will play a big factor in a decision loaded with, in his words, many variables.
“Yeah, listen, I wouldn’t lie to you and say no. Of course,” Wade said following the morning shootaround at Amway Center. “I can’t play this game forever. I just turned 35 and I have a number in my head on how long I want to play. And at the end of the day you want to be in a situation, whether it’s a competitive situation or whatever it may be.
“It’s tough in this league, as well because a lot of it 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, where I want to be, and I will do the same thing this summer.”
Wade talked again about his lack of interest in “ring chasing,” as in playing on a top contender at a drastically reduced pay rate. He won three championships and appeared in five Finals with the Heat.
But Wade’s most curious comments Tuesday might have been his diagnosis of the Bulls’ inconsistent play, most often demonstrated in passionate play against formidable opponents and lackadaisical efforts against average NBA teams or worse. More than halfway through an 82-game schedule, with so many alleged leaders on board, his words have to strike Chicago fans as ineffectual, passive, even resigned.
“… I think the thing with this team — and I’ve been saying it all year — is you have to learn how hard it is to win. Some nights we take the approach where we’ll do anything to try to get a win. And some nights we just go through the motions.
“It’s not that easy when you’re not just overly talented and you can go out there and you got three guys who can get 20 plus (points). It’s hard to win in this league. I think we’re experiencing that as a team and what these young players are learning. If we want to win from now to the rest of their career, it’s going to be hard unless you’re on one of those dynamic teams where you can just show up and everyone is so good that you guys win and you don’t even break a sweat too much.”
So the Bulls, like most teams, are not the Warriors, the Cavaliers, the Spurs … or the Heat from 2010-2014. Chris Bosh’s career is in limbo, and potentially over, due to his troubling blood clots. LeBron James is complaining now about the construction of Cleveland’s roster. And Wade sounds melancholy about his decision and his short-term future.
Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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