Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and the recently retired Kobe Bryant’s status just got a jolt of seismic proportions. 13 year Shooting Guard Dwayne Wade’s decision to sign for the Chicago Bulls some hours ago has again robbed the NBA of one-team franchise center pieces. Wade since entering the league in 2003 has been a self proclaimed “Heat lifer” following his undying loyalty to the Miami Heat. His love for the side has seen him pass over greater and more rewarding deals in the past to remain on America’s south coast. To win championships and be consistently in the hunt for more, he took bargain money to allow Heat wriggle its way to bring top notch talent to Miami. Much of this would sound strange in other sports where nothing like a salary cap exist and teams can overspend to bring in quality athletes and keep stars happy.
For the record, Wade was never the highest paid player for the Heat during his tenure despite playing a major role in winning three championships for the franchise. Seeing tons of cash being splashed over average players like Harrison Barnes – $94 million over four years from Golden State Warriors to Dallas Mavericks-, Wade cannot be blamed for rejecting Miami’s $40 million two year contract. In a turbulent albeit rich market the NBA is in, 20 million dollars for a player of Wade’s quality is below market value. To make up for some lost dollars, he has signed an improved two year deal worth $47.5 million for his hometown team, Chicago Bulls. The structure of his contract means he can sign for more money after next season since the contract’s second year is optional in his favor. Bringing back a son of the land to his formative home is always a feel good story that spurs teams on cue Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James.
However, Wade’s move to Chicago adds more problems on the Bulls and further highlights the team’s broken compass. By trading hometown hero and 2011 Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose to New York Knicks and trading Mike Dunleavy to Cleveland, the path had been cleared for Chicago to properly start over. Coach Fred Hoiberg disappointed last season basically due to a lacuna between his philosophy and actors of his philosophy. With non shooters including Joakim Noah and Rose on the roster, Chicago couldn’t thrive as a fast paced team that shoots lots of three pointers and moves the ball more.
Before trading began, management selected Denzel Valentine in the Draft, refused to trade All Star Jimmy Butler and termed the moves as “retooling” rather than “rebuilding”. Moving Calderon to Los Angeles Lakers falls in with that thought but signing Point Guard Rajon Rondo and Wade posits the six time NBA Champions in an avoidable quagmire. Aside Jimmy Butler, Chicago will have not one but two ball dominant Guards in the starting lineup for the upcoming season. For starters, none of the acquisitions fall in line with Hoiberg’s style as Rondo especially, is notorious for hanging onto the ball for way too long. His propensity to pound the ball for long stretches caused him a spot in Dallas’ free flowing offense where quicker passers Jason Kidd and J.J. Barea thrived in.
Butler on the other hand, shuffles in his fair share of one on one situations against defenders which seizes ball movement all together. Wade doesn’t fall culprit in the category listed above but he does when shooting the ball beyond the arc. Per basketballreference. com, Wade has attempted 1357 three point shots but converted 386 in his pro career. Rondo’s performance checks in at 190 made three point shots from 657 attempts and ultimately falls short of the average mark. Playing two ball dominant Guards who are non shooters in a system built around banking shots far from the basket next to a similarly built Small Forward, makes one wonder how the team would perform.
Again, new signees Wade and Rondo are not what they used to be when winning championships in 2006 and 2008 respectively. Both men have hit the big three zero and having staved off career threatening injuries, are in no position to play fast; they prefer to slow down and make plays. In his first season in Chicago, Hoiberg bumped Bulls offense from 23rd to 15th in the league without the aforementioned pair, Robin Lopez and draftee Valentine, who is no quicker either. Don’t expect that to improve any time soon after these moves.
Missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008 was a signal to build a new side on speed, quick ball movement and marksmanship around Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. However, doing the opposite has flunk Chicago Bulls back to the foundations of last season’s sub par performance. Bringing Wade back to Chicago will do management a lot of good at least on the financial side, but on the court nothing changes.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah