Dwyane Wade’s return is certain, Bulls players surmise

The Bulls’ front office left a meeting with Dwyane Wade this weekend without an official decision on whether he’ll exercise his $23.8 million player option for 2017-18, but several teammates know which way Wade is leaning.

“He definitely sounds like a guy who’s coming back,’’ one Bull told the Sun-Times on Monday. “I just feel like when you’re talking about recruiting [potential free agents] and what you hope your [teammates] are working on [this summer], you’re in.’’

There really isn’t much drama leading up to his decision in about two weeks, especially considering the amount of money Wade will make if he stays with the Bulls compared to the perils of testing the open market.

Another factor Wade, 35, emphasized after playing his first 13 seasons in Miami is that he doesn’t want to keep uprooting his kids.

With three championships on his résumé, Wade, a future Hall of Famer, said that “ring-chasing’’ wasn’t a motivation over the happiness of his family at this stage. And the Bulls did make the postseason and had the top-seeded Celtics on the ropes early.

Wade spoke at the end of the season about his process in making the decision, and a key factor was making sure he and the Bulls were on the same page.

“I think they want a defined vision and view of where they’re going, too,’’ Wade said. “And as players, with player options, you want that, too. I want that. I want it smack-dead in my face, how it’s gonna be. And from them, too. What their thought of my role or position could be here. All of it. It’s not just one-sided. It’s definitely from both sides.

“Either way it goes, whether it’s me here, not here, it’ll be something that’s mutually talked about. I’m a firm believer in talking to people, and I will never make a decision and not tell them I’m making a decision. Whether I come back or not, I’ll definitely talk to those guys and be very open about where my mind is and what I’m thinking, and I want them to be the same way.’’

That’s all general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson can ask for.

Paxson spoke about Wade at the end of the season and said his first year with the Bulls was “good for us.’’

“He has an option in his contract that was negotiated, so he has the right to pick that up if he chooses,’’ Paxson said. “In a lot of ways, Dwyane was really good for us. His [elbow] injury toward the end of the year hurt him.’’

Wade played in 60 regular-season games — starting 59 — and averaged 29.9 minutes, a career low, and 18.3 points. But he really showed his age in the postseason, shooting 37 percent from the field and averaging a career-low 15 points.

In Wade’s defense, he was coming off a dislocated elbow that cost him more than three weeks down the stretch, so he wasn’t at 100 percent for the postseason.

Jimmy Butler wants Wade back, but he has taken a hands-off approach, letting his friend make the final call.

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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