Let me start off by saying that I have long been in the camp that thinks this Bulls team would benefit most from bringing in a veteran low-post scorer/pick-and-roll partner for Derrick Rose, i.e. Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, etc… That being said, a light went off in my brain after watching the LeBron James MVP ceremony in Ohio over the weekend. I felt the same way after watching the press coverage that Chris Broussard (ESPN) states in his recent interpretation of the event.
I think LeBron will stay in Cleveland and sign a long-term extension with the Cavaliers regardless of their final outcome this season. My opinion on the matter is, for the most part, right in line with that article.
Being the Chicago Bulls homer that I am, it’s almost impossible for me to read an NBA story without somehow connecting the dots back to my beloved Bulls. So, here is where I will finally tie this back into the Bulls: Dwyane Wade should follow LeBron’s lead and sign a deal this offseason with his hometown Bulls.
Now, I know there are plenty of reasons why people argue that this isn’t a great fit for DWade or the Bulls and, to an extent, I am right there with the reasoning of these drawbacks. I know that DWade has a committed relationship with South Beach and Pat Riley and that these are both highly attractive commodities that Mr. Wade will account for when making his offseason determination. I also know that the Miami Heat is “his team” and American Airlines Arena is “his house” and that the Heat has enough money to offer him the most lucrative contract while retaining enough cap space to bring in a “wing man” for the Heat’s wing man. That being the case, the Heat will first have to re-sign Dwyane before any other player will sign with the Heat. I know that some sort of verbal agreement can be reached between FA Dwyane and FA “X” to both sign with the Heat or to both sign with the Knicks or some kind of situation similar to that. However, DWade could pull a wild card and simply sign on the dotted line with the Chicago Bulls and instantaneously know that he is guaranteed to be a part of a young nucleus that would (at least) be one of the top 3 teams in the Eastern Conference for the next half decade. Also, he would become part of potentially the greatest backcourt duo in league history.
I have to address my opening statement that the Bulls are best fit with a post scorer to play with DRose in the future. As much as I believe this to be the truth (although it really is just a crap-shoot of theories, isn’t it?), I also agree with the critics that say: unless the Bulls sign LeBron James, there is no player that makes the Bulls a bona-fide title contender. I believe that LeBron James is approaching Michael Jordan-territory where any team that is playing during his heir-ness’ prime, no matter how good, will always play second fiddle to the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the early indication being that LeBron will still be a Cavalier after this season; the Bulls should prioritize offseason moves that make the team most culturally relevant as opposed to dynamically well-founded. That’s not to say that the Bulls should look to create a flashy and marketable team while completely overlooking the interest of winning. I think the Bulls might be marginally worse in regard to the regular season with the addition of Wade as opposed to a low-post scoring threat (although DWade creates about as many fouling opportunities as a post player). When looking at the standard criteria for building a team and taking into account that the Bulls already have a player that often plays with the ball in his hands, it seems rational that the Bulls go big rather than small in free agency. Although, it did seem like DRose was playing well in lineups where he played off the ball on occasion and I think he could probably split ball control duties with Wade successfully. Additionally, I think Wade’s value in late game situations and his penchant for hitting clutch shots exponentially increases his playoff value. Still, regardless of the difference in wins and losses or what scenario is ideal for team functionality, this team will play second fiddle to the Cavaliers, albeit by a potentially slimmer margin in marketability if DWade decides to play for his hometown Bulls.
This is why I am hoping that Dwyane Wade is taking notice of what I believe is LeBron James’ promise to his hometown fans. Dwyane could not only reward his hometown fans in a similar fashion but he could also deliver an enormous gift to the team that openly coveted his abilities since the 2003 draft where he became “the one that got away” (when taken two picks earlier by Miami). Why does Dwyane Wade leaving Miami benefit him more so now than ever? It’s simple: because if LeBron stays and Dwyane leaves, the biggest attraction and story heading into next season is Dwyane Wade playing in a new city, (regardless of where Chris Bosh ends up) now that LeBron has opted to stay. Not only could this propel Wade’s marketability stock, it would create a television bonanza for “Dwyane Wade returns home” stories and Michael Jordan comparisons for Dwyane’s career-prime showcase. Not only that but it’s easy to imagine how this move would fortify the LeBron vs. Dwyane rivalry. The Bulls and Cavaliers are much more than conference rivals, they are also division rivals. These teams would be destined to duke it out for what I think the NBA would make 4 prime-slot weekend highlight games a year. It’s also conceivable that these two teams would meet up for (minimally) two or three playoff series over the next five years. This is a borderline dream-like scenario for Bulls fans, Dwyane Wade, and the NBA if it were to come to fruition.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: If we can’t get LeBron, we should then attempt to create the most entertaining product while still giving ourselves a chance to steal a series against LeBron or perhaps even a championship. I hope it’s possible that DWade comes back to “Sweet Home Chicago”.