Milwaukee Bucks: Remembering the Dwyane Wade free agency saga

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 15 (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 15 (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks have certainly not been known as a desirable free agency destination over the past decade.

While that sentiment has changed to some extent over the past several years due to the team’s rise to contention and their title-winning season, it goes without saying that star players were not flocking to Milwaukee once their contracts were up previously. That made it incredibly interesting when the Bucks were reportedly in the running for superstar shooting guard Dwyane Wade in the 2016 offseason. Wade was a familiar face in the area as he played his college basketball at Marquette from 2001-03, but the idea of him joining the Bucks was a shocking one.

After 13 seasons with the Miami Heat, Wade reportedly had a falling out and was willing to do the unthinkable and test the free agent waters. Many were surprised that Wade would do such a thing after being the face of the Heat for so long, but they were more shocked when it was announced that he would take a meeting with the Bucks. After all, the team was coming off a brutal 33-49 season where they finished 12th in the Eastern Conference. Yet, the 13-time All-Star was willing to listen to what the team had to offer.

Remembering the turbulent Dwayne Wade saga for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2016 free agency

Of course, many Bucks fans did not want to get their hopes up too much because they believed this could be a ploy by Wade to force the Heat to make a more desirable offer. That was seemingly true when it was announced that Wade’s scheduled meeting with the Bucks in New York had been canceled. However, Wade had a change of heart and rescheduled his meeting with the team, set to speak with co-owner Marc Lasry. The meeting reportedly lasted for an hour and Wade spoke highly of the young talent on Milwaukee’s roster.

Those talented young pieces included players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jabari Parker. Although Antetokounmpo nor Middleton were the players that they are today, Wade sensed that big things could have been brewing in Milwaukee. Of course, Antetokounmpo would win the Most Improved Player Award the following season and rapidly increase his trajectory to stardom over the next few years. Meanwhile, Middleton was limited to just 29 games that year due to an injury, but the writing was there that he was also trending upward after coming off his best season as a pro the year before. Finally, Parker was coming off a solid sophomore season after a devastating ACL injury in his rookie year and would have his best season as a pro during that eventful 2016-17 season.

Would a 34-year-old Wade have fit in with that group of youthful talent? It might not have been seamless, but bringing in one of the greatest players of that generation to lead a locker room is something every team desires. On the floor, Wade proved the season before that he still had some fuel in the tank by averaging 19 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He was electric as ever, and bringing in a player like that would have undeniably helped the Bucks in their quest to make the playoffs during the 2016-17 season, which they did regardless. Still, a big four of Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Wade, and Parker would have been captivating on paper and might have turned into something special.

The talent was there for Wade, but the money was not. The Denver Nuggets and Heat were both able to offer Wade more money than the Bucks, which seemed like the deciding factor. Currently a writer for The Athletic, David Aldridge reported back then that the Bucks believed that while Wade was “very serious” about them in free agency, money was the biggest roadblock. While the Bucks could have freed up some more spending money to entice Wade by trading former big man Greg Monroe, they stood pat.

After a hectic saga of scheduled meetings getting canceled and then rescheduled, Wade would ultimately sign a two-year deal worth around $47 million. The Bucks were certainly not going to offer him anything in that ballpark due to their limited financial flexibility. Also, while Marquette was a familiar place for Wade, he was from Chicago, which made it more enticing for him to sign with them, and understandably so.

Next. Milwaukee Bucks: 3 reasons why free agent Allonzo Trier is worth pursuing. dark

Who knows how things would have played out had Wade inked his signature on the dotted line with the Milwaukee Bucks, but it is a fun thought exercise.