Dwyane Wade's return to Chicago was one of homecoming and hope. He had left Miami after a successful 13-year stint in which he won three rings, but his return to the Windy City wasn't quite as breezy as he had anticipated.
The Bulls committed to rebuilding this summer and Wade just didn't want to be a part of it. However, after opting into his final year, the 35-year-old was owed $24 million. After weeks of back-and-forth negotiations, D-Wade and the front office agreed to an $8 million buyout with both parties acting professional and without bad feelings according to the three-time NBA champion.
Enter the speculation. Will Wade join LeBron James in Cleveland or one of the other Banana Boat members? The Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs are also said to be in the mix; could Wade jump ship to the West, as seems to be the trend this offseason?
The LeBron James factor
Wade and LeBron James' bromance is well documented. From winning two titles together in Miami to being the crux of the Banana Boat club. The two not only are good friends off the court but their chemistry on the court is highly effective as well. Could the duo recreate some of their South Beach magic in Cleveland? Could Kevin Love be their Chris Bosh?
The downside is that both are the wrong side of 30 and are entering their 15th season with the bumps and bruises relentlessly accumulating. Neither player's health is a huge concern but Wade did miss 22 games last season and is too mature for the nickname 'The Flash' these days. However, if the 2006 Finals MVP joins LeBron in Cleveland, they would be a part of the weaker Eastern Conference, potentially creating an easier and less strenuous route to the NBA Finals. All of Wade's other viable options seem to be in the West.
The other Banana Boat members
The Carmelo Anthony trade that saw him land with Paul George and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City just made Wade's choices that more interesting. If Wade opts not to join LeBron but does join another of the Banana Boat crew, his options are OKC with Anthony, George and Westbrook, or the Houston Rockets with Chris Paul and James Harden.
The Thunder's offseason was nothing short of remarkable, as they traded for Paul George while the superlatives for general manager Sam Presti grew exponentially. But his work was not done. In an even more surprising turn of events, he somehow lured Anthony - a ten-time All-Star, to join George and create a sizeable big three. Add Wade to that trio and you get a considerable shot at contending with Golden State.
Or, imagine Wade joins Paul and Harden in Houston. The Rockets won 55 games last season with Harden; add Paul with Wade and, provided they can work out some ball handling kinks, they seriously enter the championship contender conversation. Wade's experience in the playoffs can only be positive for both Paul and Harden, who are desperate for championship success.
The others: Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs
While the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder are making strides in the right direction, the Spurs and Clippers seem to be left behind. The Clippers have lost Paul to Houston and the Spurs have only signed Rudy Gay using their mid-level exception. Unless Gregg Popovich can once again wave his magic wand to turn garbage to gold, both teams could use the experience and veteran presence of Wade.
In light of the previous teams mentioned, it seems unlikely that the twelve-time All-Star will make the jump to either the Spurs or the Clippers, but then again no one thought Anthony or George would end up in Oklahoma. Given the unpredictability of this offseason, Wade could end up where we least expect him to go.
Which NBA team should Dwayne Wade join? Comment below!