By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade is about to become a free agent, and he’s hoping that doesn’t last for long.
Wade and the Chicago Bulls agreed to terms on a buyout agreement Sunday, a person with direct knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press. Wade is considering several options, including a potential return to Miami or a reunion with longtime friend LeBron James in Cleveland, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the buyout has not been formally announced.
Wade will have other suitors, as well. ESPN reported San Antonio is a possible landing spot, and Oklahoma City — which added Paul George this summer and will formally complete the trade with New York for Carmelo Anthony on Monday — would also seem to make sense as well.
Wade, speaking to the AP on Sunday night, indicated he wants to get his next deal done quickly.
“I’m going to take tonight and some of tomorrow and speak to the teams or players that are on my list and go from there,” Wade said. “My decision is a pure basketball decision and I’ll make the one that fits me best at this point in my career, and with what I feel I have to offer a team that needs what I have to offer.”
Here’s what he has to offer: Even at 35, he’s still a scorer, and as a three-time champion, he’s a proven winner. Wade averaged 18.3 points for Chicago last season and returned from injury down the stretch to help the Bulls get into the playoffs. Over his 14 seasons, Wade has averaged 23.3 points, been to the playoffs 12 times, and took home the 2006 NBA Finals MVP award.
He went to Chicago with great intentions — after all, it is his hometown. But the Bulls of a season ago featured him, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo. Butler got traded to Minnesota in what essentially was the start of a rebuild for the Bulls this summer, and Rondo is now with the New Orleans Pelicans. Chicago isn’t expected to be a playoff contender this season, and that would have been a rough spot for Wade at this point.
“We’re going in different directions,” Wade said.
Miami has a $4.3 million exception available if they choose to pursue Wade. Cleveland or Oklahoma City would only be able to offer about half that, and the Cavaliers — even if they got Wade for $2.5 million — would likely be adding several million more on what could be an enormous luxury tax bill after the season. But the Cavs have James and three straight Eastern Conference titles, two facts that will surely be appealing to Wade.
Wade is close with Anthony, which also brings the Thunder into serious play. The wild card could be Miami, where Wade has kept his home and his popularity. Plus, Heat teammates have made little secret that they would welcome him back with open arms.
Heat President Pat Riley said late last week that he is still in love with Wade. He could not discuss the possibility of trying to bring Wade back to the Heat because NBA tampering rules do not allow such conversations about players under contract with other clubs.
“Anything that happens from a personnel standpoint down the road, any opportunities that are there, we’re always going to approach that,” Riley said.
The opportunity is now there.
Wade leaves the Bulls one day before their media day, two days before the start of training camp. Had he been there at all, the buyout question would have overshadowed the start of Chicago’s season — something apparently neither side wanted.
“A Dream was fulfilled!!! Thank you Chicago!!!” Wade tweeted.
With that, he’s on to whatever comes next.
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