And then there were no Alphas.
Three months after trading Jimmy Butler and waiving Rajon Rondo, the Bulls reached agreement on a buyout with Dwyane Wade on Sunday night, the eve of training camp. A source said Wade gave up roughly $8 million to $9 million of the $23.8 million he stood to make after picking up his player option on June 20, two days before the Butler deal.
The move clears the way for Wade to sign with a contender like the Cavaliers, Thunder or Spurs or possibly return to his beloved Heat. More importantly, it allows the Bulls to start fresh with their full rebuild and eliminate a potential distraction since Wade preferred to play for his fourth championship at this stage of his career.
"I just felt it was time for me, turning 36, that I want to be competing for a championship," Wade told the Tribune in a phone interview.
"I said when I got here, it was always a dream for me to play here. And getting that opportunity was special. And I can't even say it wasn't what everyone expected because we went to the playoffs. And trying to restore this franchise to respectability was our goal. The organization decided to go in a different direction, which I respect.
"I understand how business works in this league. They were going a direction that at this point of my career, I didn't want to be a part of. Being unselfish, these young players they're giving these opportunities to, they need to have that time to make mistakes and learn as they're growing and building what they envision. They don't need an old guy like me hanging around them."
Wade averaged 18.3 points in 29.9 minutes in 60 games in his lone season with the Bulls. That included a fractured elbow in March that Wade surprisingly returned from in time for the playoffs. And it also featured him getting fined along with Butler and Rondo — who coined the "Three Alphas" nickname — in January for criticizing his young teammates' effort.
"Everybody treated me fine," Wade said. "Obviously, we had that situation when me and Jimmy decided to go out in the media and say the things we wanted to say. The organization reacted the way they needed to react to show what they won't take.
"But the day I signed, (general manager) Gar (Forman) was nothing but great with me. We communicated a lot. There are a lot of things that have been said about the Bulls front office and ownership. But for me, I have no complaints. They treated me fine. Michael and Jerry (Reinsdorf) and their wives were warm and open to me and my wife. I'm really thankful. They allowed me to live out this dream that I had. And deep in my heart, I'm always a Bulls fan from my youth. I'm always going to watch and support."
Wade said he had mixed feelings about the Butler trade.
"I understand the league. I've been around awhile," he said. "What did surprise me was I asked Jimmy about his conversations with them and it didn't seem like it was going that direction. Plus, you've got one of the top five or six players in the game. That's what you want and you were able to build that in-house. I was a little disappointed because being up 2-0 versus Boston on the road, Rondo goes down. If that doesn't happen, we're having a different conversation.
"But (management) never told me Jimmy's not going anywhere. They gave me their take on the possibility of trade and left it open, which they should do. Even though I'm a player, I always put myself on the other side. For me, you're either going to get behind (coach) Fred (Hoiberg) and build a team behind Fred that can help him be a successful coach. Or you're going to get behind Jimmy.
"Also, I need to say this: A lot of people give Fred a lot of flak. I don't think they should. He hasn't had the opportunity he signed up to have, and I hope they get there and give him a team that works with his personality and his coaching style and his assistant coaches' style. They were nothing but great to me. I appreciate Fred."
Wade said he isn't sure where he will land next.
"I haven't been able to talk to teams," he said. "I have a list of places that I will look at. My phone is blowing up at this moment. What it's about for me is looking at the right role. I feel I can still play."