CHICAGO — As Dwyane Wade watches the Bulls‘ front office try and figure out the direction it wants to go for the future, the 35-year-old says he just wants to focus on what he can control and leave the personnel decisions to the executives.
“I just want to play basketball,” Wade said before Friday’s overtime 128-121 win over the Phoenix Suns, his first in two weeks after sitting out two games because of a bruised wrist and a third because of an illness and the injury. “And do my best job as a player that I can do. Then from there, let them look at me and my talent and what I did and let me look where the team’s at and on what I did this season and go from there.”
“We’re 28-29. It’s not like we’re 40-and-something,” Wade said. “The guys are going to come in, they’re going to have to plug in and do their job and do what they can for this team. It will be different than what Taj brought and what Doug brought. From that standpoint, yeah, we’re going to miss those guys. You look at it from the outside in, you can say the guys that came in, a lot of people don’t know them from a standpoint of a lot of them haven’t played a lot. But at the top, they decided it was a good move. As players, our job is to come in and play with who’s on the roster.”
Bulls executives Gar Forman and John Paxson made it clear they wanted to make the roster younger in the wake of the deal that brought Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow to the Bulls. Last month, while describing the factors that would lead into whether he picks up his player option for next season, Wade acknowledged that the idea of playing with a group of young players didn’t appeal to him at this stage of his career.
“I would be a liar to say that I want to play on a team with all 21-year-olds,” Wade told ESPN. “You know what I mean? And be a part of the future building. I would be a fool to say that. But you also want to be in the best position for what you think is for you at that time, too.”
Wade also said at the time that Jimmy Butler‘s future would be a major factor in his decision. When given the chance to do so again Thursday, Forman and Paxson declined to commit to Butler as the face of the organization moving forward. Paxson said the Bulls would build “with” Butler, not “around” him. When asked if he knew what the Bulls’ plan was moving forward, Wade brushed the question aside.
“Not my focus right now,” he said. “I’ve got 25 games in this regular season to get us to the playoffs. That’s all I can focus on. The front office do what the front office do. That’s their job to come up with what their plan and direction is. As players, it’s our job to play with [who] we are assigned to play with. That’s not my concern at this point. I’m not worried about it. My goal and my focus is coming tonight, I haven’t played in a while. … I want to get back to playing and having fun with this team in the second half of the season. And just see what we can do. There’s no pressure. We just got to go out there and play basketball and hopefully put ourselves in a position where we are a playoff team.”
When asked if he felt the front office wanted him to return next season, thus picking up his option worth almost $24 million, Wade was noncommittal.
“I don’t know,” Wade said. “I haven’t had that conversation about next season with the guys. I think we all understood when I came here I signed a two-year deal with a one-year [player] option. And both sides wanted it that way. And when that time came, no matter what the season or what teammates I had, it was going to be my option. I take my option seriously and I always look into what’s the best thing for me to do.
“So I haven’t talked to them about that. I don’t want to. I don’t want them to come to me and tell me what moves they’re making, what their future plans [are]. I just want to play basketball. And do my best job as a player that I can do. Then from there, let them look at me and my talent and what I did and let me look where the team’s at and on what I did this season and go from there.”