By Cody Westerlund–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Bulls are ready to discuss buyout terms with veteran guard Dwyane Wade if that’s what he seeks, as many expect.
“We understand where he is at this time of his career,” executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said on the Mully and Hanley Show on 670 The Score on Thursday morning. “We’re more than willing to work with him.”
The 35-year-old Wade picked up his $23.8 million player option for this season on June 20. Two nights later, the Bulls drastically shifted the course of their franchise, embarking on a rebuild by trading star Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves on draft night.
Wade hasn’t commented on the Bulls’ situation since then, other than to say he plans to report for the start of training camp come Monday. He has been away from Chicago for most of this summer, spending time on a European vacation, Los Angeles and Miami among many other locales.
Busy with his life, Wade hasn’t directly talked about his future with Bulls officials. General manager Gar Forman has had “several” conversations in the past few weeks with Wade’s representation, Paxson confirmed, but details haven’t been discussed extensively.
“As I said when we had the press conference to introduce the new players after the draft, we have to always do what’s in our best interest,” Paxson said. “So there has to be something that is mutually agreed upon. It can’t be something the player wins because that’s what he wants. We have to do what’s in our best interest. Like I said, Gar’s having dialogue. We want to work with Dwyane because we respect very much. If he doesn’t want to be here, then we want to do it (the buyout). But again, the bottom line is always — and it has to be — that we have to do what’s in our best interest.”
A three-time champion during his 13 seasons with the Heat, Wade averaged 18.3 points on 43.4 percent shooting in his first season in Chicago. With Zach LaVine still working through rehab after tearing his ACL last February, Wade is in line to starting on opening night. Once LaVine is healthy, it’s expected that he’ll start at shooting guard, leaving Wade’s role up in the air. In exit interviews after being eliminated from the playoffs last season, Wade indicated he’d keep an open mind about a sixth-man role, though he hadn’t thought much about it.
Early in his Bulls tenure, Wade indicated he wouldn’t want to be part of a rebuild. He expressed a more open-minded opinion about that later in the season, but when most recently asked by the Chicago Tribune about his willingness to play a mentoring role this season, Wade offered a no comment.
Rumors have persisted for some time in NBA circles that Wade wants to team back up with good friend LeBron James at some point late in his career, and the two spent part of last week working out together on the eve of another new season.
For now, the Bulls expect Wade to report Monday, then management envisions having a sitdown with him to figure out what’s best for all parties. The questions are how much of his $23.8 million would Wade be willing to give up to get out of Chicago and what’s the price point the Bulls have set that he needs to get to?
“This whole situation was fluid last year when the season ended,” Paxson said. “You know, we made the decision to rebuild by moving Jimmy. Dwyane had picked up his option prior to the draft. The reality is he didn’t have to. He could’ve waited until after. But he did what was best for him, and he has every right to do that. We signed him to that contract a year ago. Good for him, that’s what he wanted to do for his future.”
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.