This season is shaping up to be another dud for the Chicago Bulls. One piece of awful news they received is that Dwyane Wade is out for the rest of the regular season, and will only be back if they make the playoffs.
The 35-year old injured his elbow in the Bulls loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, their sixth defeat in 7 days. In an overall healthy season for Wade (has played 57 out of 68 games), this is a blow to the Bulls, who’ll need to make up his 18.6 points per game somehow. For a team with the 21st offensive rating in the NBA, that’s not a very easy task.
Wade joined the Bulls this offseason, signing a two-year, $47 million deal, that includes a player option on his second season. While there is a chance Wade has played his last game in Bulls uniform, it’s unlikely he’ll find anyone willing to pay him more than his contract next season ($23.8 million). Whatever the Bulls direction will be in the offseason (maybe finally blowing it up), Wade is very likely to still be on the team.
The Bulls are currently at 32-36, one game behind the Detroit Pistons at 8th. The race in the East seems to be for the final 3 spots right now. The Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Pistons are on the right side of the black line that separates playoff and lottery. The Bulls and Miami Heat are below, while the Charlotte Hornets are probably too far behind to slip into the postseason for a 2nd straight season.
The Bulls do have four very winnable games on their remaining schedules (twice Brooklyn Nets, twice Philadelphia 76ers) and 7 home games out of their 14, which includes facing the conference leaders, the Cleveland Cavaliers, once. They also have just one game against a Western conference team, the Utah Jazz.
The Bulls have had a problem all season with their backup shooting guard capacity. We might see more of Jimmy Butler in that role, or the Bulls shift to a 2-point guard lineup to try and make up for Wade’s injury. Whatever the change they make will be, it’s more or less a last ditch effort to save this season, which could end up being their second time out of the playoffs, something the Bulls haven’t experienced since the 1999-2004 stretch.