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Could Wade seek buyout, return to Heat?

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ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said it’s not impossible.

Miami Heat v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls traded Jimmy Butler on Draft night in a trade fellow SB Nation writer Ricky O’Donnell called “a disaster.” With Chicago getting so little for their franchise cornerstone, the Bulls appear ready for a clean rebuild. Could Dwyane Wade seek a buyout from Chicago and return to the Miami Heat?

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, it’s plausible.

Appearing on Zach Lowe’s podcast, the longtime LeBron James-following journalist said that he expects Wade to pursue a buyout with the Bulls and could sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers or Heat.

"I don't think a return to Miami is necessarily impossible. It depends on what Dwyane wants to do. It depends on [if] Dwyane wants to play a bit role on a serious contender, or he wants to set himself for another contract after this season.

"If he went to Cleveland, for example, his role on the Cavs would be more as a supporting player, even a bench player. If he went to a different team he might be a starter, or still be able put up good numbers and position himself for one final contract."

Of course, Wade could decide to play the mentor role for his hometown Bulls and enjoy his $24 million salary this season. He told TNT’s David Aldridge he exercised his player option because of “24 million reasons” — and that was when the Bulls were shopping Butler. Negotiating a buyout would seem odd so soon after opting in.

As I wrote in May, a potential Heat/Wade reunion would likely come as a bench role for the franchise’s most accomplished player at the sunset of his career. He could decide to join LeBron James in Cleveland for another title chase. Who knows how Wade feels about Pat Riley today, just one year removed from an acrimonious series of negotiations?

There’s little doubt Wade will enjoy his biweekly paychecks from the Bulls until February, when he can negotiate a buyout and remain eligible for the playoffs with a new team. Whether Wade, who will be 36 then, will want one last go-around with the team he became the face of remains to be seen. Will he be OK with a Heat team that will be more competitive than the Bulls but probably not at the Cavaliers’ level? We’ll see.