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Continued mediocrity will influence Wade’s decision to stay or go

ORLANDO, Fla. — Veteran guard Dwyane Wade wasn’t necessarily putting the Bulls on notice, but he was making his plans for the future very clear.

How the Bulls perform the rest of this season will play a big role in whether Wade decides to stay with them or to opt out of his contract and find another team.

‘‘I wouldn’t lie to you and say no,’’ Wade said when he was asked Tuesday whether continued inconsistency by the Bulls might lead him to opt out of the second year of his deal after the season. ‘‘Of course. I can’t play this game forever. I just turned 35, and I have a number in my head on how long I want to play. At the end of the day, you want to be in a [good] situation, whether it’s a competitive situation or whatever it may be.

‘‘It’s tough in this league, as well, because a lot of it also depends on how much money you’re willing to make. It depends on what city you’re willing to be in. So it’s a lot of variables to that. But no question about it, what happens throughout this year as I go into my summer, I’ll definitely take a look at it. I take my career seriously — where I am, where I want to be — and I will do the same thing this summer.’’

Wade signed a two-year deal with the Bulls last offseason, leaving the Miami Heat to return to his hometown team. It cost the Bulls $23.2 million this season, plus a player option for $23.8 million next season, to land him.

During training camp, Wade insisted he wasn’t chasing rings. But he cleared that up after the morning shootaround in Orlando by explaining he wasn’t going to chase a ring for $2.4 million.

Before picking the Bulls, Wade could have rejoined good friend LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers. But the Cavs had only $2.4 million to offer because of their salary-cap problems.

‘‘I wasn’t willing to do that now,’’ Wade said. ‘‘Not at this point. . . . When you’re a veteran guy, you’re older, some guys have taken those sacrifices. David West last year gave all of his money back to San Antonio. That’s something that he wanted to do. He wanted to put himself in position to win a ring. I have three. I’ve been in five Finals. So I don’t need to that.

‘‘But it is a time where you want to be on a team that can compete, too, so it’s just a fine line between what you really want. This summer, [signing with the Cavs was] not what I wanted.’’

Neither was playing on a Bulls team that has hovered around .500 for most of the season.

But if the front office can make some changes by the trade deadline Feb. 23 and if the Bulls can play with some more consistency, it might help Wade make up his mind before the summer hits.

Because what the Bulls are now is just not good enough.

‘‘Right now, we are who we are,’’ Wade said. ‘‘I’m 35. I do get concerned, of course.’’

Wade said it will be a decision for another day, and that was the approach coach Fred Hoiberg took when he was told of Wade’s comments.

‘‘Obviously, that will be determined after the season,’’ Hoiberg said. ‘‘It’s not something I’m going to think about at this time. That other stuff will play out when the season is over.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com