OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Thunder have one more obvious goal.
They already employ the NBA’s reigning MVP in Russell Westbrook. They’ve already acquired four-time All-Star Paul George and 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony this summer. But that’s not enough, apparently. They want more.
They want 14-year veteran and surefire future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade.
“I got a chance to work out with him a little bit ago late in the summer, and man, he looks really good,” George said. “So, it would be great to get D-Wade here.”
The Chicago Bulls, for whom Wade played this past season, just waived the 12-time All-Star on Monday, clearing the way for him to sign elsewhere. And it’s possible that “elsewhere” is Oklahoma City, a place which was never a destination until this summer, when the Thunder signed power forward Patrick Patterson and point guard Raymond Felton on top of trading for George and convincing Anthony to waive a no-trade clause to come here.
Now, Wade is considering coming to the Thunder amongst other teams, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Anthony and Wade were both part of the 2003 NBA Draft, the arguable best class in NBA history. And as long as Wade is a free agent, which he’s on the verge of becoming, the former New York Knick is down to make a recruiting pitch of his own.
“I would love to have him here in Oklahoma City. Am I allowed to say that? Is that tampering?” Anthony asked at Monday’s media day before taking on a deadpan and looking right into the cameras in the back after someone informed him Wade and the Bulls had just parted ways.
“Oh, he's free now?” Anthony continued. “Come on, you know you belong. That's all I'm going to say.”
The 35-year-old Wade averaged 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in Chicago last season, the only year he’s played with anyone but the Miami Heat, with whom he won three championships. He did, however, post the most inefficient season of his career, churning out a true-shooting percentage just under 51 percent, well below league average.
George isn’t paying attention to that, though. He believes Wade can still ball — hardly a bold statement when it's about a man who’s won a scoring title and has been an NBA Finals MVP. He is taking a more direct route than Anthony to recruit, too, creeping on whichever social media he can.
“I'm in his phone, texts, I'm in his DMs, his Snapchat, whatever I've got to do to try to get this dude here,” he said.
The Thunder could offer Wade only a minimum contract, but they would not have to waive anyone if he decided to come to OKC.
After giving up two players to bring one, Anthony, back in this weekend’s trade, they have just 14 guys with guaranteed deals on the roster, opening up a spot to sign one more.
Wade would not be able to receive major paydays from any of his realistic suitors, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, who — like the Thunder — are over the salary cap. The Bulls, however, will pay Wade about $16 million of the nearly $24 million he was owed for this season. It’s not like he needs to take the most money with his next deal so that he can make a living this year. And the Thunder will make sure they’re on his radar because of that.
“He'll go through the process, and we'll be in touch with those people just like the rest of the league,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. “Any time there's an opportunity to make the team better since 2008, we've tried to put ourselves in position to capitalize.”