After sitting courtside in Cleveland for Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Dwyane Wade met with Bulls management in Chicago on Saturday for his season-ending player exit meeting, sources said.
Similar to Jimmy Butler, Wade met briefly with management on April 29, the day after the Celtics eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs. Both sides agreed to meet more substantively after taking some time to decompress and contemplate next season.
The meeting, which was described as positive and came on the heels of a similar meeting with Jimmy Butler earlier last week, covered a wide variety of topics, including the possibilities for next year's team, one source said.
Wade has until June 27 to officially decide on his $23.8 million player option to return to the Bulls next season. The Bulls haven't pressed Wade on his decision out of respect for the process. But the franchise has been preparing for Wade to opt in all along, and most league observers believe Wade will return.
For his part, Wade was publicly consistent throughout all of last season on the factors that would drive his decision -- state of the team, family and money. He addressed those issues in a reflective and transparent 19-minute session with reporters on April 29.
"Jimmy is, you know, a huge component in me being here. You know, what's his future like? But at the end of the day it is a me decision," Wade said. "Everyone knows that Jimmy's my guy, and I'm here because of our conversation (last summer). But a lot of it depends on the whole big picture. Jimmy's a big piece, but it's a big picture as an organization."
When the Bulls signed Rajon Rondo and Wade last summer, management focused on two-year deals to hope for financial flexibility in 2018. That's when the salary cap is projected to level after consecutive summers of historic jumps, thanks to the infusion of cash from the new TV deal.
Management already has publicly stated its desire to exercise its $13.4 million option on Rondo for next season. If Wade opts in as expected, that would likely mean a similar roster to last season and the chance for movement in 2018 when the contracts of Rondo and Wade come off the books.
Wade, who averaged 18.3 points in 60 games last season, said on April 29 he enjoyed his first season in Chicago and had no regrets in leaving the Heat. He said he looked forward to a blunt exit meeting with executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman.
"I want it smack dead in my face of how it's gonna be, what their thought of my role or position could be here -- all of it," Wade said in late April. "I respect Gar and Pax from the relationship I've been able to develop with those guys.
"Whether there are a lot of options (elsewhere in the league) or not, I'm in a very good situation. As a player, you can decide what you want to do. And I have a lot of money to decide if I want to take it or not. It's not a bad thing because I worked my butt off for it over my career, so no rush in my mind. I'm just going to get away and let my hair grow a little bit, get a tan."
From the shots of him sitting courtside in Game 4, Wade has definitely let his hair grow. In a couple weeks, it will be official whether he'll be playing his 15th season in Chicago.
"I don't need to ring chase, but I can. It's a great luxury to have," Wade said back on April 29. "Or I can be a part of passing down my knowledge to younger players. It's either way. Whatever I decide, I'm going to embrace whatever role I have on a team. That's sometimes being the second option. Sometimes I'm going to be the first. And sometimes this season, I had to be the third or fourth. It all changes, and you want to be the best at whatever role is presented to you. I've always been that way. It won't change. That will always be me."