Let’s face it: Dwyane Wade will likely opt in to the second year of his contract for $24 million. Per Bobby Marks at The Vertical, Wade has until June 27th to inform the Bulls if he’s declining that option. Maybe there’s some reason Wade wants to become a free agent again, such as having had enough of John Paxson and Gar Forman’s incompetence, or Fred Hoiberg’s ineptitude, or a Jimmy Butler trade. But he’s likely in a Bulls uniform next fall.
Assuming Wade’s back, it should be with the understanding that he should be the sixth man. This course of action falls back on the Bulls head coach, in what may be the biggest test of his young coaching career.
We can sit here and go through multiple on/off numbers about Wade, Butler and (also presumably returning) Rajon Rondo being on the floor together, and how it didn’t work. We know this. Shit, we had to suffer through 80+ games of it this past season. These three work more efficiently when two are sharing the floor at a time, when all three do everything regresses. The Bulls had their ‘surge’ towards the playoffs last year when Wade was out injured.
And we can assume that Hoiberg knows this as well. At least I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but then again you never know. With that evidence, what this comes down to is whether Hoiberg has it in him to make the decision to move Wade to the bench, and then also effectively communicate this with him.
We know Wade’s Hall of Fame resume, that he’s a very prideful person, and that he’s making superstar money next season. For his part, Wade considered himself ‘open-minded’ about the idea when asked at the end of the season. Sitting down a player as such and getting him to buy into a sixth man role will be awfully intimidating to Hoiberg. But as an NBA coach, it’s these types of tough decisions that need to happen and be made, this one preferably before Wade’s contract deadline.
The ideal scenario is that Hoiberg (perhaps along with management) discusses with Wade directly his new role for the upcoming season. Does Wade take the $24 million, put his pride aside for the sake of the team and take a reduced role? Or does he opt out and search for similar money with a better, more competitive situation?
Because it could cause major friction if Hoiberg waits too long to address this, like after Wade’s contract decision. Doing so before the deadline allows Wade to mull over his final decision and would be a respectable move on management and Hoiberg’s part. We’ve seen in the past how Hoiberg bumbled a similar situation with Joakim Noah.
Getting Wade committed to a bench role (or leaving) is the scenario that should happen in the next few weeks if hasn’t happened already. Then again, this is also the Bulls were talking about. Can they finally do the right thing at the right moment? We’ll find out soon enough.