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John Paxson: Dwyane Wade buyout must benefit Bulls; no call on Rajon Rondo yet

CHICAGO -- If Dwyane Wade wants to play elsewhere heading in 2017-18, Bulls executive vice president John Paxson made it clear that the former All-Star will have to give back a chunk of the $23.8 million player option that he opted into last week.

Wade told the Bulls last week that he would opt into the deal, doing so before a draft-day deal that sent Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now that the Bulls have hit the button on a full-scale rebuild, there has been speculation in league circles that Wade would seek a buyout and try to start fresh on a new team next season.

Paxson addressed the speculation surrounding Wade and also admitted that the Bulls still haven't made a final decision on whether or not to bring back Rajon Rondo next season during a Tuesday press conference to introduce Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and rookie Lauri Markkanen, the players acquired from the Timberwolves.

"I know [general manager] Gar [Forman] has spoken to Leon Rose, Dwyane's agent," Paxson said. "As far as a buyout, it has not been broached. I will say this, that in this type of scenario, it would have to benefit us. It would absolutely have to benefit us. Dwyane was a great pro last year, and he's been around a lot of different situations. He was in Miami when they had a couple rebuilding years as well. So right now we're operating under the assumption that he'll be here. But like I said, if that subject is ever broached by them, then it would have to be advantageous for us."

Wade, 35, acknowledged in January that he wasn't at the point in his career where he wanted to go through a rebuild and that Butler's future in Chicago would impact his decision, but in the end, the guaranteed money was too much to pass up. Now the Bulls will wait to see just how much he wants to play for a more competitive team than the Bulls in the final stages of his career.

Rondo, 31, has a team option worth more than $13 million, and the Bulls' front office spoke after the season ended that it was very likely that Rondo would return. Now that the Bulls have dealt Butler, the idea of seeing Rondo again in a Bulls uniform seems far less likely.

"As far as Rajon, we told you how highly we think of him," Paxson said. "Zach and Rajon share the same agent, Bill Duffy, who is here today. We're going to sit down with Bill and talk through [things]. We do understand that veterans are important for a young basketball team. The right veterans. The guys that are good teammates, are supportive of the young guys, and continue to teach them how to be pros. Those are things we'll be addressing."

Another main topic of concern during Tuesday's meeting with reporters was the health of LaVine's left knee. LaVine tore the ACL in his left knee last February, but he sounded confident Tuesday that he will play at a high level again at some point next season. While he didn't put an exact timetable on his return, LaVine was optimistic about the rehab process, and Bulls officials are confident he will be back on the floor sooner rather than later.

"I'm going to be safe," LaVine said. "The main thing is always being safe. And I always have to take care of myself and this franchise as well, so I'm going to be safe. I'm going to do everything I can physically to get back, and then when I'm at that point, I'm going to be ready. I'm the type of person that's going to work my butt off to get there as fast as possible. I'm going to be ready when I am there."

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Paxson: Wade buyout would have to benefit Bulls
Paxson: Wade buyout would have to benefit Bulls
Bulls executive vice president John Paxson says that the topic of buying out Dwyane Wade's contract has not been broached, and he's planning on having him with Chicago next season.

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