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Dwyane Wade: Future with Chicago Bulls hinges on course set by front office
ANDREW SELIGMAN | Associated Press
CHICAGO — Dwyane Wade wasn’t ready to make any declarations about his future with the Chicago Bulls.
The 12-time All-Star and three-time champion is waiting for management to set the direction of the franchise. Then he’ll make up his mind: Stay with his hometown team for $23.8 million or look elsewhere.
“I don’t need to ring chase, but I can,” he said on Saturday. “It’s a great luxury to have if I want to do. Or I can be a part of passing down my knowledge to younger players.”
Wade’s contract option is one of the biggest issues hanging over the Bulls as they head into the offseason following a 41-win season and first-round playoff exit against Boston, though it’s not at the top of the list.
Jimmy Butler has a comfortable spot there. The Bulls need to decide if they’re going to build with him or go all in on a tear-down and trade one of the league’s best two-way players.
They also have a contract option on Rajon Rondo and need to build a roster that suits the more open offense coach Fred Hoiberg prefers.
As much as anything, perhaps, they need to settle on a clear direction. The Bulls tried to walk the line between staying competitive and getting younger last season, and it led to a .500 season and an exit in Game 6 after they made the playoffs on a tiebreaker.
Here are some things to know as Chicago sets its offseason course.
BUILD OR BYE
The Jimmy Butler Rumor Season figures to be an active one.
Butler’s name has been coming up in trade talk for a year with Boston mentioned as a possible destination. But the Bulls could also make a strong case for building with him.
Butler met with management on Saturday but declined to speak to the media.
STAY OR GO
Wade wants to hear a defined direction for the organization from management.
He plans to meet with Bulls executives John Paxson and Gar Forman in a few weeks and will then figure out whether to exercise his contract option or look elsewhere. The Bulls’ intentions with Butler will be “a huge component” in his decision but not the only one.
Wade could be staring at limited options or a huge pay cut if he decides to leave. But he also might have an opportunity to play for a contender.
Either way, he insisted he has no regrets about the two-year deal he signed to leave Miami last summer for his hometown team.
“The biggest thing is I came here and I was embraced,” Wade said. “Not only by the city, by up top. I was embraced by the coaches, the players, and it was some good moments and some bad moments, just like every season. But I don’t regret my decision at all.”
Wade averaged 18.3 points in 60 games. He also found himself at the center of a big blowup in January when he and Butler criticized the team’s effort and Rondo fired back at them. That resulted in fines for the three veterans.
“My message was just about trying to make sure that guys understand how important this is,” Wade said. “And maybe because I’m at Year 14 of my career, maybe I see it different and I do it different.”
Rondo ended an up-and-down season on a high note. But was it good enough to convince the Bulls to exercise their option on him?
In and out of the rotation for much of the regular season, he played well down the stretch and was a huge factor in winning the first two playoff games at Boston. The Bulls weren’t the same with the four-time All-Star sitting out the final four games because of a broken right thumb.
ON THE BENCH
Chicago is 83-81 with one playoff appearance in two seasons under coach Fred Hoiberg and some fans were chanting for the Bulls to fire him on Friday.
“Sure I understand the frustration,” he said. “It was a frustrating game to go out this way.”
Wade thought those chants were misguided.
“Talent makes all of us look better,” he said. “Fred was dealt a young team and a team that didn’t really have an identity. It was kind of unfair, in the sense, in his second year to get a whole new team and say, `Be great with it.’ It takes a while. It takes time.”
Forward Bobby Portis revealed he suffered a third-degree burn on his left foot from a heating pad in early March and is still experiencing pain.
“I had my headphones in; I didn’t feel it burning through,” he said.