After several days of rumors, and reports, and reports on rumors, Dwyane Wade has reportedly settled on free agency destination and it isn't here in the Mile High City. According to multiple reports, Wade has decided to take his talents to his hometown of Chicago to join the Bulls.
Sources on @TheVertical: Three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade has informed the Miami Heat that he's accepted the Bulls offer.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 7, 2016
Denver was always a long-shot to land Wade. For starters, few people close to Wade thought he'd ever leave Miami. Even Wade himself had talked about how unlikely it was that he'd ever don a uniform other than the Miami Heat's red and black. My best guess is that he entered free agency with every intent of re-signing with the Heat and finishing his career there. However, things changed when Miami Heat team President, Pat Riley reportedly offered Wade a ridiculously low offer last week. Wade, who had led the Heat to three NBA championships despite never having been the highest paid player on his team, clearly took offense to the offer.
Wade sent a few mysterious tweets including the ominous one-liner: "Relationships are important people!"
Relationships are important people!— DWade (@DwyaneWade) July 4, 2016
As recently as yesterday, I still felt that all of the rumors about Wade's interest in Denver, Milwaukee, and Chicago were just smoke screens to try and pressure Riley into upping the offer. The Heat did in fact raise their offer quite a bit, getting much closer to the $50 million that the Nuggets were able to offer. However, it wasn't until the Nuggets actually sat down face-to-face with Wade in New York this morning that this story seemed to have any legs.
In the end, Wade elected to go to Chicago. It's not clear how Wade will fit in Hoiberg's system, especially given the weird collection of talent that they have assembled including an over-dribbling, poor shooting point guard in Rajon Rondo. Wade, Rondo, and Jimmy Butler are all known to be very competitive and have somewhat thorny personalities. Wade's arrival in his hometown could become something of a nightmare for them with so many strong personalities, a coach that may already be on the hot seat, and fan expectations that are sure to be through the roof.
But that is their problem, and not ours. Not us Nuggets fans. The overwhelming excitement and optimism about Wade from Nuggets fans creeped up more than even I anticipated. After attendance had been waning for five seasons here in Denver without the presence of a true NBA superstar, it was a bit shocking that so many fans rose up out of the shadows to take interest in the team again.
But rest assured. Although the Nuggets may have lost out on Wade and on the superstar the city clearly wants, their team is still plenty interesting. NBA fans are often a year behind the times so I suspect, barring another major trade or free agency acquisition, the Nuggets will once again struggle to put butts in seats at Pepsi Center. But for those still tuning in, there is so much to be excited about.
Gary Harris is still here and without Wade casting a shadow over him, he should have plenty of room to grow and show more of the promise that he showed last season when he led the team in both minutes and steals. The Nuggets 1st pick in last month's draft, Jamal Murray, will also have one less player to compete with for minutes. And while he is only a rookie, he has plenty of upside and the potential to blossom into a superstar in his own right.
Emmanuel Mudiay will also get a chance to showcase his talent more now that Wade is not in the picture. Mudiay looked his best last season when he was surrounded by other shooters, something that the team lacked last season but is flush with this year with the return of Wilson Chandler and the addition of Murray.
Wade chose somewhere else. But Denver might still have walked away the victor.