Chicago Bulls executives pressed Dwyane Wade(notes) for a commitment on Friday afternoon, but the star free-agent guard wasn’t ready to make such a leap to leave the Miami Heat, a league source told Yahoo! Sports.
The Bulls were pushing for a commitment to arm them in a meeting set for Saturday with LeBron James(notes) in Cleveland. Officials will now try to work over James on constructing an All-Star free-agent alliance in Chicago.
Wade is seriously considering the Bulls, two sources close to him said. Said one: "It all depends on who he would play with," as to whether he would take less money to leave Miami. For a Wade partnership in Chicago, "There's still LeBron hope," a source said.
The Bulls and Wade met for a second time on Friday and talked deeper about what it would take to sway Wade back to his hometown. Chris Bosh(notes) joined Wade and the Bulls for part of the meeting in the office of agent Henry Thomas, who represents both players. There are scenarios where the Bulls could try to work an arrangement for all three players to join them – presumably engineering a sign-and-trade with Toronto for Bosh – but the most likely partnership would come with Wade and James or Wade and Bosh.
"D-Wade and LeBron want to play together, but neither one wants to commit to each other," a source with knowledge of the conversations told Yahoo! Sports on Friday.
Sources say Wade is intrigued by the talent the Bulls have to surround him, especially in contrast to how gutted the Heat roster has become in the clearing of salary cap space.
Without Wade leaving Miami to join James elsewhere, league sources believe that the two players are most likely to re-sign with their respective teams, Miami and Cleveland. Still, Wade and Bosh are closely connected, and even without James, Wade is considering a Chicago partnership with Bosh. With $29.9 million in cap space, Chicago could give two different players a five-year, $87.6 million contract.
Sources say Chicago has a proposed trade of Luol Deng(notes) looming for what's described as a "center" that could help to clear more space. The Bulls could also ship young forward James Johnson(notes) to get more room.
The Bulls must make a strong case to James on Saturday to get him to take what would be $30 million less than the Cavaliers could offer. Sources say one team that all but eliminated itself with James in the presentation process was the New York Knicks. James met with the organization on Friday and his inner circle has described New York's presentation as lacking preparedness and organization. James' camp also found it to be redundant to much of the New Jersey Nets' far sharper, edgier presentation on James' earning power.
James hasn't been convinced that he can overcome the $30 million difference between possible Cleveland and New York offers through endorsements and other streams of revenue. However, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's vision of bulking up James' international portfolio did resonate with him, and the Nets' vision of using Brooklyn and the owner's international muscle does appeal to him.
Sources say James is dubious his mere presence on the Knicks will be worth that much more to him in endorsements.