While Kevin Durant has dominated headlines during the NBA offseason, Dwyane Wade isn’t far behind. The 12-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion left Miami after 13 seasons to sign with his hometown Chicago Bulls.
“I love it,” Chicago native and former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Being a Chicago guy, all of us that kind of grew up in Chicago watching the Bulls win those six titles, we all dreamed about playing for the Bulls. So I think he’s fulfilling a dream of his by joining the Chicago Bulls. I think it’s a great situation for him and his career. As far as potential for having a good season, they’re both probably the same – and if Chris Bosh doesn’t come back next year, they’re probably going to not be very good. So I think it’s a great decision.”
Denver offered Wade the most money (reportedly $52 million), followed by Chicago ($47.5 million). Miami, meanwhile, stood firm at two years and $40 million – despite the fact that Wade had taken less money over the years to help the Heat build a contender.
When it was for Miami to return the favor, it didn’t.
“I don’t like that,” said Walker, who won an NBA title with Wade in 2006. “I think Dwyane Wade has done so much for the organization and the city and what he’s meant to the franchise. I think (signing Hassan Whiteside first and not taking care of Wade) was an insult. (Miami should have at) least verbally (committed) to him that they’re going to take care of him and give him a good deal. I don’t think they started at two (years) for $40 (million). I’ll be hard-pressed to believe that. I think they low-balled Dwyane when they came out with the negotiation, and he felt insulted. He didn’t feel appreciated, and I think that’s the reason why he left. Obviously they must have insulted him with the offer that they made. I know they said two for 40, but I guarantee that didn’t start at two for 40.”
Wade, 34, averaged 19.0 points, 4.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 74 games last season.
“The year he had last year was incredible,” Walker said. “He was one of the top 2-guards in the league. He showed everybody he still had a lot in the tank. He showed that he’s healthy. So I thought the Heat (made a mistake).”
Especially Pat Riley, who reportedly didn’t even call Wade during free agency. While many are surprised, if not stunned, that it came to this, Walker isn’t.
“I played for Pat Riley,” Walker said. “He has a huge ego. He’s going to stick to his guns, and Dwyane Wade has pride and ego and he’s going to stick to his guns. It’s unfortunate because he’s done so much for this organization, especially when they brought in LeBron. Dwyane was the first guy to take a pay cut. Not that it was a tremendous pay cut, but he took a pay cut that made it work and obviously gave his heart and soul to the organization. So it’s tough, but Pat Riley is a stubborn guy in certain situations. I could see Pat not wanting to negotiate the deal (and letting) Micky (Arison) do it again.”
As for the aforementioned Durant, Walker has mixed feeling about the former MVP’s decision to play for Golden State.
“I have no problem with him deciding to go play anywhere,” Walker said. “(But) Golden State won 73 games without him. They’ve been to two NBA Finals without him. They won one championship. They were six points away from winning back-to-back titles. What are you going to do for this organization to change things? That core is already there. They could have brought Harrison Barnes back and they still probably would have been the best team in the NBA. You don’t make a dramatic difference for them, and you could have chemistry issues. Is Durant, at 27, willing to sacrifice his game to win a championship? I don’t know if he’s willing to do that. I can’t see Steph Curry playing off the ball. I can’t say Durant playing off the ball. If you watch how Durant scores, he is a catch-and-shoot guy, but Durant is a guy that puts the ball on the floor. He can create his own shot. I just think they’re going to have chemistry issues on the offensive end.
“But I’m mad because of the competitive aspect of it,” Walker continued. “He should want to beat them. Last year, up 3-1, you should be embarrassed. Up 3-1 with a home game and you can’t close these guys out? Then you go join them? You build a bond with your teammates. As a teammate, you want to beat those guys. I thought picking up Victor Oladipo was a huge pick-up. I think Oladipo is better than Dion Waiters. You got good young bigs. How could you leave? I just don’t see how he could have left them.”