After 13 seasons with the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade will start a new chapter of his NBA career, as he has officially signed with the Chicago Bulls, the team announced on Friday. The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski initially reported the agreement was in place on July 6.
The deal is for two years and $47.5 million, according to Wojnarowski, who added there is a player option included for the second year.
Wade spoke about his decision shortly after the Bulls announced the move:
Bulls general manager Gar Forman spoke about the signing in Chicago's news release:
We are thrilled that Dwyane has decided to come to Chicago. It’s not often you get the opportunity to add a three-time champion and 12-time All Star to your roster. We are delighted he has decided to become a Bull, as he provides a great veteran perspective on the court and in the locker room. He will be a tremendous fit with our team.
"I look back with pride and amazement at all we have accomplished together," said Wade in a letter released to the Associated Press (via Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press). Wade added:
This was not an easy decision, but I feel I have made the right choice for myself and my family. Watching the Bulls growing up inspired me at an early age to pursue my dream of becoming a basketball player. My most treasured memories were watching my dad play basketball on the courts of Fermi Elementary School and developing my game at the Blue Island Recreation Center. I have never forgotten where I came from and I am thankful to have an opportunity to play for the team that first fueled my love of the game.
The shooting guard took to Twitter on Thursday to say goodbye to Heat fans:
Wade discussed the decision to sign with the Bulls on Thursday during an appearance on Live with Kelly:
Heat owner Micky Arison released a brief statement on Wade's decision on Twitter:
Heat president Pat Riley commented on the decision, per Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald:
SADDDDDDD!!!! SO saddddddd! I will never forget the sixth game in Dallas in 2006. DW rebounded the ball, and threw it to the heavens and the Heat universe was perfect for that moment. Our first world championship. Our universe is not perfect today. It will be fraught with anger, judgment, blame instead of THANK YOU!!! Ten years ago. Ten years older. Ten years wiser. Ten years changed. All of us. Dwyane had a choice, and he made it. He went home. Bad, bad summer for us. But there will be another 10 years, and it will be someone or something else in 2026. Move on with no blood or tears. Just thanks. I truly loved Dwyane, but families grow, change and get on with another life. He will always be a part of us. ALWAYS! And no more bruises and enough fighting. Let’s just fly above it if we can and never forget. I feel his pain and pride for what pushed him over the ledge. Been there. Forever, for always, your coach I will be. FOREVER!
However, Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald reported Riley never contacted Wade during the process.
ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst noted that while teams such as the Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks were reportedly in the running for Wade's services, they may not have been viable destinations compared to the Windy City:
The 34-year-old veteran is coming off yet another strong season, as he led the Heat to within one win of the Eastern Conference Finals.
D-Wade averaged 19.0 points, 4.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game during the regular season en route to his 12th consecutive All-Star selection before dropping 21.4 points, 5.6 boards and 4.3 dimes per contest in the playoffs.
Synergy Sports on Twitter noted Wade was efficient in several areas throughout the postseason:
Injuries have been an issue for Wade as he has gotten older, but his total of 74 regular-season games played in 2015-16 was his highest mark since he appeared in 76 during the 2010-11 campaign.
Wade was healthier and better than he had been in years, which prompted Heat guard Goran Dragic to make a fitting comparison, according to NBA on ESPN:
After Wade proved deserving of the $20 million that Miami paid him in 2015-16, the Heat made it clear that keeping him in the fold was among their top priorities.
He had the best season he's had since prior to the Big 3 [of Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James]. Compensation to a player is not just a way to get paid and live your life. Compensation to a player is about recognition and respect and place. ... We know where he belongs. The day we give him his contract, then I'll go to him to cash my check.
Although the assumption was that he would re-sign with the Heat, Wade didn't reveal his intentions ahead of free agency.
According to Adam Lichtenstein of the Palm Beach Post, the three-time NBA champion expected some potentially tense negotiations: "I don't pay myself, so I can't anticipate anything being smooth. So, like I said early in the year, in my hope, it is [smooth], hope everything for myself is quiet and everything works out the way I want it to, whatever that is."
Per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Wade flirted with signing elsewhere last time he was on the open market before returning to Miami.
Skolnick noted Wade's displeasure with the way the Heat handled negotiations contributed to his departure:
Chicago may not be a title contender with Wade, but it's one of the league's most compelling teams now that he's slated to suit up next to Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and Robin Lopez. Rondo signed a two-year, $28 million contract, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.
And while the Cleveland Cavaliers are the undisputed kings of the Eastern Conference, Miami would have had a team capable of challenging them with Wade.
Now that he is out of the picture, however, the Heat are in danger of seeing their championship window slam shut.
While Wade is an unquestioned future Hall of Famer and one of the best players of his era, one can argue that leaving the Heat at this juncture of his career slightly detracts from the considerable legacy he's built.