CHICAGO – Dwyane Wade grew up in Chicago and still makes his offseason home there.
The Bulls would like to see that arrangement become more permanent.
Wade and his representatives spent about two hours with the Bulls on Thursday, hearing their recruiting sales pitch as the most awaited free-agent period in NBA history – maybe sports history – got underway in earnest. Wade talked with the Bulls at the United Center, where as a kid, he idolized Michael Jordan and fantasized about following him to the NBA.
Details of the meeting were not immediately known. Wade did not comment to reporters as he left the United Center, rolling down the window on the black Suburban he was in simply to give the peace sign with a smile.
Wade’s time with Chicago coincided with the New Jersey Nets’ meeting with the megastar of this class, LeBron James, in Cleveland on Thursday morning. Both meetings ended at roughly the same time, and the Nets’ contingent quickly left Cleveland to fly to Chicago for an afternoon meeting with Wade.
“So far, so good, very informative,” his agent, Henry Thomas, said of teams’ pitches so far. Asked if any agreements were in place, he said: “Way too soon. We’re just getting started.”
Pat Riley, Wade’s boss in Miami for the past seven seasons, got the first word in on free agency, contacting the 2006 NBA finals MVP at the largely ceremonial time of 12:01 a.m. EDT on Thursday. Wade has said repeatedly that he would like to stay in Miami, but structured his last contract for this opportunity of becoming a free agent for the first time.
The Heat are still “very confident” that Wade will stay in Miami, said Alonzo Mourning, Wade’s former teammate, his close friend and now an executive in the Miami organization.
Wade’s talk with the Bulls almost certainly included comparisons to that Jordan era and Wade’s continued ties to the city. He recently purchased a new home in Chicago, and his sons, ages 8 and 3, have been raised almost entirely there.
The Bulls would love to see Wade settle in on the court, too. They let leading scorer Ben Gordon sign with Detroit last summer and traded away John Salmons during the season, helping them secure nearly $30 million in cap room for the free agency sweepstakes.
Those two guards are gone and so is veteran Kirk Hinrich, leaving plenty of time available for a scoring guard like Wade in the backcourt with All-Star point guard Derrick Rose.
The Bulls are also expected to talk with Knicks forward David Lee on Friday, according to Lee’s agent, Mark Bartelstein. Lee was a first-time All-Star and averaged 20.2 points and 11.7 rebounds, but he’s expected to weigh bigger offers.
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