Friday, July 2, 2010
By Mark Schanowski
What should we make of Dwyane Wades decision to schedule a meeting with the Bulls on Thursday? Was it simply a case of making his friends and relatives happy by listening to what the hometown team had to say, or is he really interested in joining forces with Derrick Rose in Chicago? Please post your comments in the section below.
First off, theres probably a 90 percent likelihood Wade will stay in Miami for the rest of his career. He loves the South Beach lifestyle and the weather. Hes one of the biggest sports celebrities in the area, and he enjoys mingling with all the beautiful people that travel in and out of South Florida. Like many of us, Wade grew up with the harsh Midwest winters, and hes probably not in any hurry to experience that all over again. Spending a good chunk of his summers in Chicago is one thing, making it his year-round home again is another.
So, what is the unlikely scenario that could cause Wade to re-consider his devotion to Miami? First off, it would mean LeBron James deciding to stay in Cleveland, which is looking more likely with each passing hour. Next, Chris Bosh accepting a sign-and-trade deal to a Western Conference team like Houston or Dallas. That would force Wade to look over the free agent landscape, and realize the only help he might get is from talented, but erratic big men Amare Stoudemire andor Carlos Boozer. Wade is tired of doing so much heavy lifting after experiencing that 15 win season back in 2007-2008, and then pretty much carrying mediocre Miami teams into the playoffs (and first round eliminations) in each of the last two seasons.
All of a sudden, those harsh Chicago winters might not seem so bad anymore. If Wade would be willing to sign with the Bulls, he could bring Boozer or Stoudemire with him, and instantly transform the Bulls into one of the best teams in the East. A starting line-up of Wade, Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and StoudemireBoozer would cause all kinds of problems for any team in the conference. By contrast, if Wade stayed in Miami with either Stoudemire or Boozer as his All-Star running mate, the rest of the starting line-up would include some combination of Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony. Not exactly a title contending group.
Bulls Executive John Paxson desperately wanted to draft Wade back in 2003. He had the former Marquette All-American in for a couple visits, and was hoping Wade would still be on the board when the Bulls picked at number 7. But Pat Riley surprised everyone by selecting Wade with the 5th pick, forcing the Bulls to settle for Kirk Hinrich. Captain Kirk has been a very productive player, but Wade is arguably the third best player in the league behind LeBron and Kobe Bryant. Paxson would love the chance to bring Wade back to his hometown as a high-scoring compliment to his All-Star point guard, Rose.
Its pretty unlikely Wade has the same type of nostalgic feelings about a Chicago homecoming. After all, he was critical of the way the Bulls organization treats its former players, and hes going through a messy divorce with his childhood sweetheart whos living in the Chicago area right now. Wade has temporary custody of the couples two children, and probably wants to avoid the drama that would be sure to come with playing for the Bulls. But from a pure basketball standpoint, signing on with the Bulls might not look all that bad if Riley strikes out in his plan to sign two all-stars to team up with Wade in Miami.
LEBRON DECISION COULD COME BY MONDAY
The Bulls get their chance to make a presentation to the biggest prize in the 2010 free agent class, LeBron James, on Saturday in Cleveland. As I mentioned, agents, NBA executives and national media members are now predicting James will probably stay in Cleveland, possibly on a 2 or 3 year contract. James can tell his home-state fans he will give it all he has to win a championship during that time period, and if hes unsuccessful, he can leave in good conscience.
Officials of the Nets and Knicks say their presentations to LeBron went well on Thursday, and Im sure well hear the same from the Heat and Clippers on Friday. But the reality is, James can only play for one team next season, and unless hes prepared to turn his back on the only place hes ever called home, the Bulls are facing an uphill battle.
Jerry Reinsdorf, John Paxson, Gar Forman and new coach Tom Thibodeau will lay out all the reasons why the Bulls offer the best chance for LeBron to win championships right away. Im sure theyll also lay out an impressive marketing plan that emphasizes the Bulls unique status as a world-wide brand. Lets hope LeBron puts basketball and winning over everything else when deciding which team to sign with next week.
No big deal, only the short-term future of at least a half-dozen franchises riding on what he ultimately decides.