Bulls Operating Under Assumption Dwyane Wade Wants To Be In Chicago, Not Bought Out … Yet

By Cody Westerlund–

CHICAGO (CBS) — As the Bulls have made a high-profile pivot in their franchise direction in the past week, veteran guard Dwyane Wade has been enjoying a European vacation.

Wade’s travels have included a tour of the Colosseum in Rome, a meet-up with now-former teammate Jimmy Butler in Paris and a helicopter ride over some scenic part of France.

What it hasn’t included, obviously, is his thoughts on the Bulls embarking on a rebuild as he enters the twilight years of his career. Shortly after the Bulls traded Butler and the No. 16 pick in the NBA Draft last Thursday to acquire Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and No. 7 pick Lauri Markkanen, external speculation began that the 35-year-old Wade would be a buyout candidate at some point in this coming season.

The Bulls haven’t been in contact with Wade yet, but they have talked with his representation. And from the sounds of it, if Wade wants a buyout, it will need to be on the Bulls’ terms.

“I know Gar (Forman) has spoken with Leon Rose, Dwyane’s agent,” Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said Tuesday. “As far as the buyout, that has not been broached. I would say this: In this type of scenario, it would have to benefit us. It would have to benefit us.”

In a buyout situation, a player and team mutually agree to part ways by waiving him, with the player giving up some portion of his salary for that season to become a free agent (assuming no opposing team claims the player and his full salary on waivers). In some instances, that can be a small financial sacrifice by the player. In other situations, it can be big. It all depends on the circumstances and desires at play.

Wade recently exercised his $23.8-million player option for 2017-’18. And the Bulls have informed everyone that they still value veterans amid a rebuild, so for now, it’s status quo. This could play out quickly or last into February.

“Dwyane was a great pro last year, and he’s been around a lot of different situations,” Paxson said. “He was in Miami when they had a couple rebuilding years as well. So right now we’re operating under assumption that he’ll be here. But like I said, if that subject is ever broached by them, it would have to be advantageous for us.”

A veteran the Bulls must make a decision on soon is point guard Rajon Rondo, who’s owed $13.4 million for 2017-’18 if he’s still on the team after Friday. The Bulls can waive Rondo before then and only be on the hook for his $3 million guaranteed.

Management has spoken highly of Rondo’s mentoring influence on young teammates last season, but they also need to open up playing time for Dunn, Cameron Payne and Jerian Grant at point guard.

“That’s still to be determined,” Paxson said of Rondo’s future. “As far as Rajon, we told you how highly we think of him. Zach and Rajon share the same agent – Bill Duffy is here today, so we’re going to sit down with Bill and talk it through. We do understand that veterans are important for a young basketball team, the right veterans – guys that are good teammates, are supportive of the young guys and can continue to teach them how to be pros. Those are things we’ll be addressing.”

In other roster news, the Bulls are extending qualifying offers to Nikola Mirotic, Cris Felicio and Joffrey Lauvergne as they enter restricted free agency. That gives them matching rights on any offer sheet they sign with a different team in free agency.

The Bulls won’t extend a qualifying offer to Michael Carter-Williams, making him an unrestricted free agent after he struggled in his lone season in Chicago.

Cody Westerlund is a sports editor for CBSChicago.com and covers the Bulls. He’s also the co-host of the @LockedOnBulls podcast, which you can subscribe to on iTunes and Stitcher. Follow him on Twitter @CodyWesterlund.

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