Last week, basketball fans were led to believe that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade would make an announcement concerning their playing careers by July 5. That day has come and gone. Now it seems that no announcement will be made by either man until Wednesday or Thursday at the earliest.
Entering the free agent process, most felt Wade was a mortal lock to remain in Miami, while most felt James would end up anywhere but Cleveland. Now it appears James' most likely move is to return to Cleveland, but Wade's final destination seems up for more debate.
Miami has done a wonderful job freeing up enough money for Wade and two other big-name free agents. However, with Joe Johnson and Amar'e Stoudemire agreeing to new contracts, that's two potential key members of Miami's plan off the table.
Chris Bosh could still sign with the Heat, but he doesn't seem interested in signing for anything but the max contract. The Heat and Raptors could arrange a sign-and-trade deal, but that would leave Miami without Michael Beasley. Although Beasley may not be a star yet, he's too talented to give up—no matter what the return may be.
Carlos Boozer and David Lee could both head to Miami, and that would give the Heat an excellent frontcourt, and plenty of muscle to protect Wade. But Boozer's injury history could deflate a realistic run at the title, and does anyone think Lee is deserving of a max deal?
Chicago became a viable option for Wade, who met with the team multiple times in the Windy City. It is a very good fit for Wade.
In fact, it's the perfect fit. And the choice he should make to ensure his place in the history books.
Chicago is home for Wade. He grew up in Chicago during a time when the entire world's basketball focus was on the Bulls and Michael Jordan. Wade's family is still in the city. Being close to them should be a priority during his current divorce proceedings.
From a purely selfish point of view, signing with Chicago also makes good sense in reference to his divorce. A contract of $30 million less with the Bulls means $30 million less in potential losses in a divorce hearing. While that factor may not be at the top of his list of things to consider, it should be on the list nonetheless.
Wade, not James, is the perfect fit for the Bulls. Derrick Rose would have to compromise his play-making ability with James on the court, while Rose would have greater freedom with Wade on the perimeter. The Bulls would still have enough flexibility to either sign another high-priced free agent, or make a trade for Bosh.
Giving up Luol Deng or Joakim Noah for Bosh would be well worth it for the Bulls. A 'Big Four' of Rose, Wade, Bosh, and Noah or Deng would be the odds-on favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. With apologies to the Celtics and their fans, the big three will be a year older, not a year better. The 'Chicago Four' will all be in their prime years and poised to bring another banner to the United Center.
Wade may not have the MVP trophies like James, but he does have a championship ring that James so deeply desires. If things stay as they have been, James will likely pass him eventually. Going to the Bulls will give Wade the advantage for the better part of their careers.
In fact, Wade could come closer in comparison to Jordan than any current player.
Wade, not Shaquille O'Neal, was the primary reason for the Heat's championship run in 2006. Kobe owes three of his five championship rings in large part to O'Neal, and Wade could easily lead the Bulls to conquer the Lakers next June.
Dade County has temporarily become Wade County, but for Wade, there is no disputing that Chicago is home. James could become an adopted son, bringing glory back to the city, but Wade is already a son of the city. And he could become every bit the giant that Jordan had been in the 90's.
Chicago winters compared to what Wade has been experiencing on South Beach may make Miami an irresistible decision, but raising the O'Brien trophy in Millennium Park would make all the cold winter nights worth it.
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