NBA

Dwyane Wade signing with the Bulls hurts Miami and Chicago

When Kevin Durant announced that he was signing with the Golden State Warriors Monday morning, Dwyane Wade almost immediately posted to Snapchat.

"Power move," Wade said, presumably commenting on Durant's decision.

It was a power move -- €” Durant eliminated the Thunder as championship contenders while further bolstering the Warriors' already incredible title credentials. One man changed the NBA power structure with one move.

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But perhaps Wade was letting the world know that he was about to shake things up in the coming days when he sent out the Snapchat from a boat in Ibiza Monday.

Wade made a power move of his own Wednesday, but unlike Durant's there was no beneficiary.

Wade announced that he's going to leave Miami to play for Chicago, making both teams worse in the process.

Now that's a power move.

The Bulls signing Wade is equally incomprehensible to Miami letting the face of the franchise walk.

There are positives to be gleaned on both sides, of course -- €” Chicago adds a surefire Hall of Famer at a position of need, while Miami avoids having to stand by and smile as Wade recreates the last years of Kobe Bryant's career -- €” but all that is outweighed by the overwhelming stink of this signing.

Wade is leaving Miami over a difference in money, but it's really about much more than that. The difference in cash between what the Bulls ($47 million) and Heat ($40 million) offered Wade could be less than $3 million when you factor in taxes.

No, this was about loyalty and respect. This was about a promise Heat president Pat Riley made to Wade -- €” a promise to do right by the guard after he took less-than-market-value contracts in his prime to help the Heat make moves to chase titles.

Wade is inarguably the most important player in Miami Heat history, but he's never been the highest-paid player on the roster. With the massive, $24 million jump in the salary cap this summer, there was a presumption that this would be the year Wade would be made whole.

No one at the Heat predicted that Chris Bosh would be sidelined with blood clots, jeopardizing his career and making him untradeable, forcing Miami to use $23 million of its cap space for a player who might not play again. No one predicted that Hassan Whiteside would become a player worthy of a max contract, eating up even more of that cap room. No one saw a playoff-contending team offering Wade more than $20 million a year to leave Miami and play for them.

But all three of those things happened. It was a perfect storm that led to this moment.

The majority of Whiteside's new contract had to come out of the Heat's salary cap space, which forced Miami to renounce Wade's cap hold and Bird rights, meaning the guard's contract would also have to come out of cap space.

The Heat had roughly $20 million to offer Wade this year, thanks to the new salary cap, and they extended him a one-and-one deal for that amount. Wade wanted more -- €” he wanted $25 million a year, according to multiple reports -- €” and pushed the Heat to meet him at his number. He pushed Riley to fulfill the promise to make him whole.

The Heat are not going to be title contenders in 2017 -- €” not after losing Luol Deng and Joe Johnson in free agency, which would have put more responsibility on Wade's 34-year-old legs to lift the team. According to people close to the situation, the infinitesimally small title chances fueled Wade to continue to ask for more money, despite the fact the Heat couldn't offer a larger contract without moving players to create salary cap space. But what's the real impact of losing a player or two on a roster that has no title hopes if it can make up the difference in cash?

At the same time, Wade might have been undervaluing his own legacy in Miami. He jeopardized his relationship with the organization and the fans in South Florida over at most $5 million. Wade has made $153 million in his career from contracts alone.

Wade tried to create leverage against the Heat by flirting with other teams. The Denver Nuggets reportedly offered him a two-year deal worth $50 million. There was the threat that he would go to Cleveland, despite the fact that would require him to take a massive pay cut.

But the threats to go to Denver and Cleveland didn't ring true. Wade holds his reputation above all else, and going to perennial doormat Denver or looking like a ring chaser in Cleveland wasn't going to play well for the brand. Miami was calling Wade's bluff -- €” but if Wade was bluffing, he wasn't flinching. It had become personal for him. Two stubborn parties were locked in a showdown, waiting for the other to break.

Then Chicago entered the picture with a serious offer.

Why the Bulls decided to enter the fray is a question that's yet to be answered. Eight days ago, Bulls general manager Gar Forman said that his team was "going younger, more athletic, and building it back up moving into the future."

Wade is neither young nor athletic anymore, and signing him jeopardizes the Bulls' immediate and long-term futures.

The Bulls fired coach Tom Thibodeau for a variety of reasons, but the one that the Chicago brass will publicly discuss is the desire to follow the trend of the NBA and move to a pace-and-space offense. They hired Fred Hoiberg to install it, but in his first year, the personnel he inherited proved incapable of handling his system. So Derrick Rose was traded and Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol were allowed to walk in free agency -- €” the Bulls looked to build around Jimmy Butler, some young players and Hoiberg's playbook.

They added Robin Lopez, a tremendous four-out center, and Rajon Rondo, who is a perfect schematic fit for what the Bulls are trying to do. Butler is a bit of an odd fit in the offense, as he doesn't shoot many 3-pointers, which jeopardizes some of the spacing, but he's such an exceptional all-around player, it's a hit the Bulls are willing to compensate for moving forward.

The Bulls want to space the floor with drivers and 3-point shooters. Wade might have been the former a few years back, but he's never been the latter. So why did the Bulls want to sign him?

Hoiberg's system is almost predicated on having good 3-point shooters on the floor, but next year, the Bulls will start a backcourt trio of Rondo, Wade and Butler that made a combined 133 3-pointers last season. That's nine fewer 3-pointers than Pacers backup point guard C.J. Miles made in 2015-16.

The Bulls also traded away a player who does fit Hoiberg's system -- €” Mike Dunleavy -- €” to create enough salary to make the Wade deal happen.

Wade jumped on the Bulls' surprising offer, using the guise of going back to his hometown to cover up the fact that the relationship between him and the Heat became almost irrevocably fractured over the past few weeks.

By signing Wade, the Bulls' front office has jeopardized the team's chances of turning into a true title contender anytime soon. It has been reported that Bulls brass wants to rebuild on the fly, but in the NBA that's code for being perpetually mediocre -- €” and with the way the league is set up, mediocrity doesn't pay. Because of Wade's contract, the Bulls will next be able to be fully active on the free agent market in 2018. Will Butler and Hoiberg be on the payroll then?

Hoiberg will now have to change his system to fit in a past-his-prime player who doesn't have a meniscus in his left knee. A player whose abilities on the defensive end are now well below replacement level. A player who is joining this team out of spite for his old one. A player who could well want to put up 30 shots a game to justify his expense.

Hoiberg has a pacemaker, a byproduct of the aortic aneurysm that ended his NBA career. But so far this offseason his bosses have signed him Rondo, the league's most notorious coach killer, and Wade. Are they trying to kill him?

The Heat might be slightly better off for having let Wade walk, but it's not by much. Whiteside still needs to be signed (though his other free agency finalist, Dallas, is no longer an option). The roster around him will struggle to make the playoffs and has limited draft picks moving forward.

Moving for Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook before he's a free agent next summer would be a Hail Mary play -- €” the Heat would have to liquidate close to every valuable asset they have to beat out offers that the Lakers or Celtics could make for the supernova point guard, with no written guarantee that he would re-sign with the Heat long-term should they acquire him in a trade. But if Miami doesn't make that move, it probably don't stand a chance at landing 2017's top free agent. Westbrook isn't going to re-sign in OKC, so the Thunder have to trade him, eventually. Without Westbrook, the Heat will have a difficult time improving their chances of escaping mediocrity -- €” Paul Milsap or Gordon Hayward don't turn this Heat squad into a title contender.

Miami might end up running in place, like the Bulls, waiting for LeBron's prime to expire so they can compete for Eastern Conference titles.

Had Wade stayed in Miami, the team would have been marginally better than it is today, and that would have better positioned it to compete for top players in the years to come. Wade has clout around the league, and he's labeled Miami's front office miserly and disloyal with this move. Miami might be an attractive market, but who wants to sign for a team with that rep when its title hopes are also minuscule?

Somehow, someway, Wade has made both the team he joined and the team he left worse. There's no winner to be found anywhere with this deal. In a summer when we learned that anything -- €” even the unthinkable -- €” could happen, this was the most bizarre signing of them all.