Before he signed his $47 million deal with the Chicago Bulls, Dwyane Wade had a tough decision about the Denver Nuggets.
“They did an unbelievable job of recruiting me,” said Wade after the Bulls shootaround on Tuesday morning. “The first call I got was from them on July 1. It was a great process and I got to know some great guys along the way.”
Wade said Nuggets president Josh Kroenke, general manager Tim Connelly, head coach Michael Malone and director of pro personnel Jared Jeffries were “great” and “really sold me on the family atmosphere, really sold me on them.”
“(I) chose to go back home, but it definitely was something that I didn’t go into free agency thinking was a possibility.”
Neither did those observing the process as it unfolded. Many thought Wade was simply using the Nuggets for leverage for a better contract, that he had no real intention of suiting up for them. Asked about the sincerity of his negotiations with the Nuggets, Wade shook off the skepticism.
“People are going to think that way no matter what,” he said. “You go through the process. People are not in the room with you, they don’t understand. I cannot sit here and explain to anyone what it’s like to be a free agent, and what it’s like to have to make a decision about where you’re going.
“No one ever thought I would leave Miami, and no one ever thought I would be in a Chicago Bulls jersey, but I am. So things happen. You never know what can happen when it comes to free agency.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone recalled being impressed in the team’s New York meeting with Wade in July.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but once I was in that meeting I realized pretty quickly that Dwyane had done his homework,” Malone said. “He was prepared and had great questions. He knew all about us.”
It was by design, Wade said.
“Coach (Malone), someone who I respect from afar, just getting into his mind as a coach and how he thinks,” Wade said. “I really had a great meeting. It went way over time, just talking about basketball. Those guys, I was sold on them, those individuals, great individuals. They made it a lot tougher than people think just from the standpoint of when you get into free agency, it’s all about how comfortable someone can make you feel. It’s about the picture they paint for you about the what’s the possibility of how the team can look with you inside of that team. Coach Malone was great. I enjoyed sitting down and talking basketball.”