It ends a second consecutive summer of will-he-or-won't-he talk and worry in Miami, which was able to keep him last summer after contentious negotiations led to a $20 million, one-year deal. The Heat spoke with him on Wednesday in New York in an effort to keep him, the same day that Wade also took meetings with the Milwaukee Bucks and the Denver Nuggets.
Whether Chicago ever got into the same room with Wade was unclear on Wednesday night. What was clear was that whatever the Bulls said, and however they said it, was enough to get him out of Miami this time, after they missed on him twice before.
And even more clear was that the lure of home — just as it was for Wade's close friend LeBron James two years ago, when he left Miami to go back to northeast Ohio and rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers — was too strong this time to ignore.
"Watching the Bulls growing up inspired me at an early age to pursue my dream of becoming a basketball player," Wade wrote in the letter. "My most treasured memories were watching my dad play basketball on the courts of Fermi Elementary School and developing my game at the Blue Island Recreation Center. I have never forgotten where I came from and I am thankful to have an opportunity to play for the team that first fueled my love of the game."
He was beloved in South Florida, where the county was even once renamed "Miami-Wade County" instead of Miami-Dade for a time in 2010 during the summer when Wade managed to convince Chris Bosh and James to join him and build a team that would go to the NBA Finals four consecutive times. His jersey has been one of the NBA's biggest sellers for years, even though he never changed cities or numbers. It was always Heat on the front, 3 on the back.
That is, until now.
Wade — who averaged 19 points last season — felt he was not getting the respect he deserved last summer when he opened talks with the Heat. And then this offseason, the Heat prioritized contract talks with Hassan Whiteside (who has agreed to a $98 million, four-year deal) and went on an ultimately futile pursuit of Kevin Durant.
The 34-year-old Wade joins a Bulls team that has a new point guard in Rajon Rondo — who Wade has had some on-court heated moments with in the past — and All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler. The Bulls have plenty of time to figure out how to make it work, and made two deals on Wednesday night to clear the cap space that will be necessary to sign Wade when the NBA's offseason moratorium on player movement ends Thursday.