Does Dwyane Wade Make the Chicago Bulls a Title Contender?
Dwyane Wade shocked the world late on Wednesday night, as he turned his back on a 13-year career with the Miami Heat and decided to return home to Illinois, instead.
Wade Leaves Miami
Per reports, Wade has accepted a two-year, $47 million deal to play with the Chicago Bulls, officially ending a long run with the only team he’s ever known.
— NBA.com (@NBAcom) July 7, 2016
The writing may have somewhat been on the wall for Wade. For years there was speculation that he could “return home” to Illinois and play for his Bulls, while a contract dispute with the Heat this summer made it more possible than ever.
In the end, Miami wasn’t willing to give Wade the extra security he wanted (a third guaranteed year on his deal) and passed on the 34-year old star. Instead of finishing out his career as a member of the Heat, Wade will return to Chicago and join up with Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo.
Wade parted with a heart felt letter to the Miami Heat fans, but will move forward to the 2016-17 NBA season excited to play for a team he grew up watching and loving as a kid.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) July 7, 2016
While the breakup between Wade and Miami is big news, an arguably bigger question is if an aging Wade can chance Chicago’s playoff fortunes.
The Bulls had been mainstays in the NBA playoff race for years, but finally fell out of the playoff picture last year thanks to a laundry list of injuries and erratic play.
Chicago made major changes in an effort to get younger and more balanced, trading Derrick Rose to the Knicks and signing Rajon Rondo to man the point.
Their plight to get younger shifted to one to get more competitive on the fly, and when they saw an opportunity to lock up a hometown favorite like Wade for the next two years, they instead decided to try to sneak back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Chicago’s plan looks to be two-fold, however. Making the playoffs has to be the obvious goal with Wade and Butler together, but with the salary cap rising yet again in 2017 and some attractive names now on their roster, the bigger hope has to be that management can now secure 1-2 other huge names next summer in free agency.
Bulls Playoff Odds
That’s the long con, though. For now, Bulls fans will want to know what kind of a team they have right now, and what they can expect out of the Chicago Bulls this season. Can they make it back to the playoffs? Can they win a series? Could they shock and make a run to the NBA Finals?
The playoffs are absolutely doable. The Miami Heat could regress and the Bulls as now constructed could be conceivably better than playoff teams from last year like the Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics and others.
It’s worth noting that Butler has enjoyed mostly nothing but success in the pros and Wade is used to making the playoffs every year, as well. Chicago doesn’t have a trash roster around those two stars, either. On paper, Rondo can run the offense, attack the paint and set guys up. If he can actually give full effort on defense, he could even be an asset there.
New center Robin Lopez has turned into a viable two-way player and is actually one of the better defending big men in the entire league. He helps Chicago’s rebounding and interior defense, while he also can be an asset on offense without being the black hole that Pau Gasol often was.
The Bulls also have some quality young talent that could take on bigger roles and progress. Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis all flashed potential last year and in bigger roles, could be excellent supporting pieces to Wade and Butler.
While the Bulls should make it back to the playoffs, anything more than that this year would be gravy. They lack the shooting to consistently contend with the top teams and they’re just not there yet when you put them up against the Toronto Raptors or Cleveland Cavaliers. The Charlotte Hornets look to be as good as they were a year ago, too, while the Indiana Pacers improved dramatically on paper.
Bovada was giving the Bulls +7500 NBA Finals odds before Wade signed on the dotted line, and we can probably expect a mild bump, possibly to something closer to +5000 or +6600. There is optimism now that Wade is in town and the real goal will be to enjoy Wade and improve with an eye on landing some star players next summer. For now, that will have to do for Chicago fans.
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