Despite earning a playoff berth, it’s hard to consider the 2016-17 Bulls season a success. A first-round exit, minimal growth from Fred Hoiberg as a professional coach and a roster that’s most consistent attribute was its inconsistency.
Regardless of the dysfunction throughout the organization, however, it was reported Tuesday that Dwyane Wade will opt in for the second year of his contract, worth $24 million. Wade can’t play in 82 games anymore, his defense is lacking and his deal will make a big impact on the salary cap, but for his sake it was the best decision.
It’s foolish to blame Wade for opting in because he’s just making the best decision for himself based on the options presented to him. In reality, it’s the much-maligned Bulls front office that deserves the blame.
Wade argued on Twitter Tuesday night that his stats speak for themselves, insinuating that his age is the only reason his not making $150 million.
While his numbers still look fine, it’s inarguable that he’s not the same player he once was in Miami. His skill set isn’t conducive to Hoiberg’s preferred offensive system, and mixing him with players like Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo doesn’t lead to outstanding success.
Asked Dwyane Wade tonight why he opted in with Chicago for 2017-18: "24 million reasons."
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) June 21, 2017
In retrospect, it wasn’t a good move to offer Wade the contract the Bulls did. Sure, the excitement was there, and it did make Chicago more interesting to watch (for all the wrong reasons, possibly) but there still is no apparent plan for the future.
There is a ton of money tied up in Wade. Butler is still on the trade block but without any clear plan of action. The draft is looming, but that’s been an exercise in futility for some time now for the Bulls.
There’s one common thread for all these dysfunctional elements: GarPax.
Sometimes it feels like John Paxson and Gar Forman are just go-to scapegoats, but they have done more than enough to shoehorn the Bulls into basketball hell, stuck between being an actual competitor and being bad enough to get elite draft prospects.
It’s hard to build yourself into a championship-contending team when you do nothing but make frivolous offers to veterans and draft unathletic college seniors year in and year out.
Paxson and Forman knew last summer that Wade wouldn’t turn the Bulls into title contenders, and if they actually thought that they should have asked literally anyone with a passing knowledge of the current state of the NBA to tell them otherwise.
They knew the signing would placate the die-hard homers and instill even a sliver of optimism in skeptics, all while keeping the United Center filled and selling a few extra jerseys. It worked, but now everyone is forced to deal with the consequences.
It’s not Wade’s fault he got a massive contract option and then opted into it. It’s hard for anyone to pass up $24 million, especially for a star in the twilight of his career.
GarPax enabled this decision, one of many that illustrate a clear lack of a plan and no success-oriented goals within the organization. Don’t blame Wade for getting his, blame the continued ineptitude of the front office for still not getting a clue.