Bulls prepare for the return of Dwyane Wade

Bulls prepare for the return of Dwyane Wade

PHILADELPHIA — Some are being more coy about it than others, but Dwyane Wade will return from his right elbow injury Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets, just in time to get a couple games in before the playoffs.

And Jimmy Butler is the happiest guy in the room, his eyes lighting up when asked about the prospects of how Wade will fit in with a Bulls team that plays a little differently than the one he left on March 15.

“I’m stoked to have my guy back, let him get out there, get in a rhythm, and do what he’s done for years,” Butler said to CSNChicago.com as he walked off the floor following the Bulls’ 102-90 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night. “We just want him comfortable and pick up where he left off.”

How Wade fits into a team that plays a little faster, shoots more threes and relies more on the playmaking of Rajon Rondo than it did before will be interesting to see, and won’t be an easy adjustment.

But with three games remaining and the Bulls still in “must-win” mode, trying to clinch a playoff spot, it could prove as the perfect training ground before the postseason.

Butler, who takes up his share of possessions as a facilitator as well as scorer, will take it upon himself to make sure Wade fits in with the way things are done. Wade will certainly get his share of touches to create, but Wade was also one of the league’s premier off-the-ball scorers when he played next to LeBron James in Miami.

“Tell him to be aggressive, pass him the ball to where he can get used to scoring with ease and let him know to come in and stay aggressive,” Butler told CSNChicago.com. “We want him to be that way the last three games and hopefully, the playoffs.”

Wade nearly carried the Miami Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, as they fell in a Game 7 to the Toronto Raptors in the East Semis. Any semblance of that player will be invaluable for the Bulls this time around.

“Even though we’re playing good without him, we can’t make the playoffs without D.Wade,” Nikola Mirotic said. “We need him to have a chance. We need his experience, he knows how to play those games. We don’t have that much experience. He’s been working so hard to get back. Hopefully he can return and we can make the playoffs and everybody will be there. We’re gonna fight.”

Mirotic has played in 12 playoff games, back when the Bulls advanced to the second round before losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games before Tom Thibodeau was fired and Fred Hoiberg was brought in.

[RELATED: Jimmy Butler's triple-double leads Bulls past Sixers]

Butler was a different player then as well in 2015, as was Wade last year. But he knows with all the conditioning and drills and rehab Wade has been up to, nothing compares to game action.

Which is why getting him out there against a bad Brooklyn Nets team or an underachieving Orlando Magic team is better than throwing him out there in Game 1 of a playoff series next Saturday or Sunday.

“Now it’s about getting in a rhythm. Like he knows and everybody knows there’s no shape like basketball shape,” Butler told CSNChicago.com “As much running and shooting as we can do, it’s different when you get out there in a game. Like I said, I just want him out there just going, just playing and doing what he does.”

Bulls parting ways with guard Michael Carter-Williams

Bulls parting ways with guard Michael Carter-Williams

Don't expect to see Michael Carter-Williams in the fold for the Bulls guard spots next season.

The organization is reportedly declining the qualifying option for the young guard, according to John Paxson on David Kaplan's radio show:

Carter-Williams, 25, was acquired in a trade with the Bucks last October in a move that sent Tony Snell to Milwaukee. Snell — the Bulls' first round pick (20th overall) in 2013 — turned in a career year with the Bucks, averaging 8.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while making 80 starts.

Meanwhile, Carter-Williams appeared in only 45 games (19 starts) for the Bulls, suffering through the worst season of his professional career. He was drafted 11th overall in the same year the Bulls took Snell and Carter-Williams burst onto the scene with 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game in his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Carter-Williams was then traded to the Bucks in February 2015. He shot only 36.6 percent from the field in 2016-17 while averaging 18.8 minutes per game.

The Bulls are stacked at guard with Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo currently under contract plus 2016 first-round pick Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant (acquired in the Derrick Rose trade), Cameron Payne (acquired in the Taj Gibson deal), Isaiah Canaan and then Kris Dunn and Zack LaVine (who were both acquired in the Jimmy Butler blockbuster last week).

Ways to watch, stream Bulls introductory press conference for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen

Ways to watch, stream Bulls introductory press conference for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen

The Chicago Bulls will introduce Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen today, and you can watch on CSN or live stream at CSNChicago.com/watchlive.

Tune in as coverage starts at 11 a.m. with players set to take the podium. 

The trio was acquired in the Bulls' trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. LaVine is rehabbing from a torn ACL, which cut his strong campaign short last season. Dunn is coming into his second season and was a player Gar/Pax thought highly of in last year's draft. Markkanen is a stretch-four that was drafted out of Arizona with the No. 7 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

Read more about the new Bulls in Mark Strotman's scouting report.