CHICAGO -- As Dwyane Wade waits to see which direction the Chicago Bulls' front office goes in advance of next month's trade deadline, the future Hall of Famer told ESPN on Thursday that Jimmy Butler's future will play a large part in whether he decides to stay in Chicago.
Sources told ESPN that there continues to be debate within the organization about whether to press the button on a full-scale rebuild, and the 35-year-old Wade doesn't sound like a man who wants to go through that at this stage of his career.
"At the end of the year, you sit back and see what the team is, what direction they're going in," Wade told ESPN on Thursday. "I would be a liar to say that I want to play on a team with all 21-year-olds. You know what I mean? And be a part of the future building. I would be a fool to say that. But you also want to be in the best position for what you think is for you at that time, too.
"... One of the main reasons I'm here is Jimmy. He's the one who called me and got me to come here. So that's a big part of my decision and everything else, is what Jimmy's doing, what his future looks like and all that. And I've made it very clear. So I have no idea from that standpoint. You just have to wait and see and then see what works out."
Wade stunned the basketball world last July when he left the Miami Heat after 13 seasons and signed a two-year deal with the Bulls worth $47 million, which included a player option for the second year.
The Bulls enter Friday's game with the Atlanta Hawks with a 21-22 record.
While Wade is keeping an open mind about his own future, he's definitely watching to see what the Bulls do with Butler, who has been at the center of trade speculation for more than a year. While the Bulls would prefer not to move the 27-year-old Butler, the team understands the two-time All-Star is their most valuable asset.
When given multiple chances over the last year, Bulls general manager Gar Forman and executive vice president John Paxson have yet to publicly commit to Butler as the face of the organization moving forward.
Butler, meanwhile, is having a career-best season, averaging 24.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
Wade knows that Butler's future -- if he's traded in the coming weeks or months -- will have an impact on his own.
"You would think so," Wade said. "You don't know. You think about guys like, let's just go with Mike Dunleavy, who didn't want to go to Atlanta. I think he had 20 off the bench the other night. You don't know what situation is going to be right for you. In the moment, yeah, you have an idea of what you want to do. And this is the way you wanted it to go and then when it don't go that way, you got to respond. So I don't know.
"I've enjoyed my time here. It's been a learning experience, it's been challenging and it's been cool all in the same. I feel -- for my career, for me -- I needed this. I needed to see what the other side was like, too. ... But I'm definitely very open and honest that Jimmy is one of the reasons I'm here from a basketball standpoint and, as we sit here right now, he's here, I'm here, we're happy. You don't know what's to go from there."
After 14 years in the NBA, Wade is ready for seemingly anything, but he admits that he is still adjusting to the Bulls.
"A lot of it's just out of your comfort zone," Wade said. "You're trying to find that comfort. Especially in the midst of a team trying to grow. And, at times, you're trying to be a coach for the guys, so it's definitely had its own challenges."
"... I made the decision (to leave Miami), and it's a challenge that I wanted for myself. Like I said ... the easiest for me (was) to just ride off into the sunset in my comfort (zone) in Miami. And no one (would have) judged me at all. Because no matter what I did in these last couple years, they'd have been like, 'Oh ...'
"But I made it a little more difficult than that because I'm a competitor, so I challenged myself."
Wade made it clear earlier this season he wasn't "ring chasing," but he understands the Bulls' front office has to choose a direction moving forward. If Butler is dealt and Wade decides not to opt into the final year of his contract, it would free up a tremendous amount of cap space for the Bulls as they decide what other moves they want to make.
In the short-term, Wade is waiting to see what happens.
"You evaluate the year from an organization standpoint, from a player's standpoint: How you loved it, how you liked it, how you hated it, whatever the case may be," Wade said. "So I think that's the biggest thing. You kind of sit back and -- being 35 -- you kind of evaluate your years. What do you want to do? How many more years you thinking about playing? What's the best thing to do? Is it to sign a contract, or is it to opt out and try to get a longer [deal]?
"It's a lot of things you weigh. But when the season's over with, I'll let this season kind of speak for itself, and (I'll) kind of sit back, like I always do with my family, and then decide on what their future looks like for us."