By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) What are you celebrating about the one year of Dwyane Wade as a Chicago Bull? Was there even much worthwhile to remember?
These questions aren’t so much to disparage him as to shake our heads loose of whatever traumatic residue we still have from the 2016-’17 Bulls. It was quite terrible, remember.
But I ask more so because there was a report Wednesday that the Bulls plan to buy out Wade in the coming months. They’d be going tank at full bore and not letting a Hall of Famer in the winter of his career help this motley roster accidentally win any more games than it should.
Previously, the Sun-Times reported in June after Jimmy Butler was traded to the Timberwolves that Wade would be “asking for a buyout.” Wade is owed $23.8 million for 2017-’18. Reaching a buyout would mean he’d have to give up some of that money to the Bulls in exchange for becoming a free agent. Wade hasn’t spoken publicly about a buyout, while the Bulls have maintained it’d have to be an advantageous situation for them to do so.
Thanks heavens if this happens. I don’t need any more Wade in my Chicago basketball life — the upcoming year of which is going to be especially trying, what with the Bulls at 100/1 odds of merely winning their division, worst in the Central. They have one — count ‘em, one — nationally televised game this coming season, and it’s against Tom Thibodeau, Butler, Taj Gibson and the Timberwolves.
The Bulls front office finally — finally — blew the roster up. Executives Gar Forman and John Paxson convinced the Reinsdorfs to let it start from scratch, buying the vanilla pudding cup with two spoons a few more years on the job they don’t deserve. Wade is too old for this.
He only played in 60 games last season, and that was when there were postseason aspirations. And how wonderful that he came back from injury to push them into a first-round pantsing by the Celtics once that latter remembered who they were playing.
Wade on this upcoming team would be tragic — for him, the Bulls, all of us. Imagine the Bulls with their inevitable 3-20 record.
Wade would be pretending to care, chucking up awfulness on his way to 20 points a game because somebody has to get buckets, missing a dunk a week, figuring out how many “rest” games is too many until we’re just calling it a sore … let’s say quad. Then it’s the D-Wade Fashion Week, and none of us need that anymore.
As coach Fred Hoiberg navigates one of the league’s worst squads with the perpetual face of a man whose shouldn’t have used the expired mayo at lunch, it’s only a matter of time before player-coach Wade is once again cornered into speaking his mind.
“I definitely don’t agree with the chants,” Wade said after the “Fire Hoiberg” chants rang through the United Center when the Bulls quit early in their eliminating loss to the Celtics. “I definitely believe he got better throughout this year. And you have more of a grasp moving forward with what he wants to do with this team.
“You have to give people a chance. If you’re going to change this team again next year if he’s coaching here, that’s tough to have a new team each year that you’re coaching.”
The “got better” remark is damning with faint praise, saying basically, “Yeah, he wasn’t very good, but he’s less not good now.”
This was a month after a piece in Bleacher Report quoted a scout who said: “When Fred would call plays on the sideline, (Rajon) Rondo would just flat-out blow him off. Wade does it, too. Butler does it, too. … That becomes infectious.”
Which was a few months after Wade got benched after saying the following during a particularly rough stretch:
“Everyone don’t care enough,” Wade said. “You got to care enough, man. It’s got to mean that much to you to want to win. And it doesn’t. … I don’t know how you fix it. It just doesn’t mean enough to guys around here to want to win ballgames. It (ticks) me off, but I can’t be frustrated and I can’t care too much for these guys.”
Wade has never respected Hoiberg, and having to help babysit would only further fray whatever there is of a relationship. For what it’s worth, Hoiberg said in July that he didn’t expect Wade to get bought out.
“As of right now, no. I don’t see that,” he said. “Dwyane, he’s going to have an important role on this team as a mentor. He’s going to obviously play for us and hopefully play well. And take the role of leadership. It’s going to be very important with him.”
Nobody believes that, unless by mentorship Hoiberg means more of Wade ignoring him on the court and showing the kids that their supposed superior is a substitute teacher. We know what Hoiberg is and isn’t, and being emasculated in a rebuild helps nobody.
Just pay Wade to move on and seal his time here with one last shake of the head in amazement that it actually happened. And at least then GarPax can honestly say they continued to get younger and more athletic.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.