Yesterday, basketball fans were stunned by the news that Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, who had spent his entire 13-year career with the franchise, was leaving town to sign with the Chicago Bulls.
While Heat fans mourned the loss, Bulls fans rejoiced the fact that a local son was coming home; after all, Wade was born on the South Side of Chicago, grew up rooting for the Michael Jordan and attended high school in a Windy City suburb.
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Wade's decision got us thinking: what other NBA stars would garner huge headlines by choosing to sign with their "hometown" teams. Wade and LeBron James have done this recently, and if more players, followed suit, the landscape of the league would change drastically.Let's take a look at 10 players who eventually play for their home teams.Get Started: Kyrie Irving To The New York Knicks >>>Kyrie Irving - New York KnicksIrving isn't a true New Yorker in the sense that he grew up in West Orange, N.J. and played his high school basketball for Garden State powerhouse St. Patrick's. Still, he's a local legend, and a mega-star whose return to his home base would be a coup for the Knicks.Remember, New York loves point guards, and there aren't many better ones out there than Irving. He proved that in this year's finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers
.Irving is under contract with Cleveland until 2020, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. He'll be 28 at that point, and will likely command big bucks on the open market. Will the Knicks be in the running for a point guard and potentially sign him? We'll see.Next: Draymond Green To The Detroit Pistons >>>Draymond Green - Detroit PistonsWay before Draymond was a small-ball star in the NBA and a thorn in LeBron's side, he was just "Day-Day" Green from Saginaw, Mich., aka "Sag Nasty." Green won a pair of state titles at Saginaw Hill School, about 90 minutes away from Detroit. He then went on to star for Michigan State and is beloved in the Great Lakes State. Like Kyrie Irving, Draymond is signed with his current team through 2020. At that point, he'll be 30 and could conceivably have won a couple of more titles as part of Golden State's unbelievable core.With all that on his resume, would Draymond entertain a return to his home turf? Pistons fans would welcome him with open arms.Next: Russell Westbrook To The Los Angeles Lakers >>>Russell Westbrook - Los Angeles LakersWestbrook grew up in Long Beach, Calif., and played for Leuzinger High School in Lawndale. Additionally, he stayed close to home for college and fulfilled a lifelong dream by playing at UCLA.The definition of a freakish athlete, Westbrook has developed into a top five player in the sport while with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He and Kevin Durant formed a dynamic duo, but with Durant bolting for the Bay Area, the whispers of Westbrook leaving OKC have grown louder.Westbrook is a free agent after next season and the man is going to get PAID. The Lakers are one of the teams expected to pursue him heavily, along with the Knicks, Heat and countless others. If he were to go play for the purple-and-gold, it would immediately shake the proud franchise from its doldrums. Next: Damian Lillard To The Golden State Warriors >>>Damian Lillard - Golden State WarriorsLillard is the latest in a long lineage of great point guards from Oakland, following in the footsteps of Jason Kidd and Gary Payton. He was a star at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda. After a brilliant career at Weber State, Lillard was the No. 6 pick of the 2012 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. Since then, all he's done is average 21.4 points and 6.3 assists per game in four seasons and produce one incredible, playoff series-winning memory.Fortunately for the Blazers, they'll have Lillard through much of the rest of his prime; he's signed through the 2020-21 season, when he''ll be 30. A potential return to the Bay Area and the Warriors would have to wait until then. Next: Kyle Lowry To The Philadelphia 76ers >>>Kyle Lowry - Philadelphia 76ers Lowry was born in the City of Brotherly Love and played his high school ball at Cardinal Dougherty, which has since closed. He stayed in the Philly area and helped Villanova to a Sweet 16 and and Elite Eight during his two years on the Main Line.After stints with the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets, Lowry's career took off with the Toronto Raptors. He's made the All-Star team the last two years and had his best year statistically (21.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals) in 2015-16.Lowry is under contract with the Raptors for two more years, and will become a free agent in 2018 at the age of 32. If the 76ers are in the market for a veteran point guard to help expedite "The Process," they could opt to bring him home at that point. Next: Anthony Davis To The Bulls >>>Anthony Davis - Chicago BullsDavis grew up on the South Side of Chicago and was a high school star and blue-chip recruit for Perspectives Charter School. He won a national championship at Kentucky in 2011-12, his lone year in Lexington.
New Orleans has been Davis' home during his NBA tenure but the Pelicans star has kept the Windy City close to his heart.
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Davis inked a massive five-year contract before last season and will be with the Pelicans through 2021. After that, the Bulls can try to bring "The Brow" back to Chi-town.
Stephen Curry - Charlotte Hornets
Though born in Akron, Ohio, Curry grew up in Charlotte where his father Dell spent most of his NBA career with the Hornets. Dell often took Curry and his younger brother, Dallas Mavericks guard Seth, to his games, where they would shoot around with the Hornets during warm-ups.
Possibly the greatest shooter in NBA history, Curry is already a huge fan of North Carolina sports franchises, especially the Panthers. Signing with the Hornets would hardly seem out of his comfort zone.
Curry is under contract with the Golden State Warriors until 2017. The three-point specialist hasn’t said whether or not he plans to resign with the team, so there’s still time for the Hornets to convince him to come home.
Kevin Durant - Washington Wizards
Born and raised in Washington, D.C. Kevin Durant has spent his entire career as far away from the Wizards as possible. Even as a kid, Durant wasn’t a fan of his hometown team; instead, he reportedly wanted to play for his favorite team, the Toronto Raptors.
The Wizards are infamous free agent losers, so snagging the "Slim Reaper" might be an unattainable dream. However, Durant would unquestionably be the leader of the roster, and excite a fan base hungry to be a consistent contender.
Durant can opt out of his new Golden State contract next season, and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Can Washington figure out a persuasive offer for the hometown hero by then? Durant already shocked the NBA by signing with the Golden State Warriors earlier this week, so putting personal gain first is hardly out of the question.
Blake Griffin - Oklahoma City Thunder
Blake Griffin already has the makings of an Oklahoma City legend. The OKC native won state titles each of his four years in high school, an accomplishment that made him one of the highest rated and most decorated recruits ever out of Oklahoma. He went on to play two seasons of college ball for his home-state Sooners before entering the 2009 NBA draft.
The uber-athletic Griffin is still a highlight-reel worthy player, and he's improved his all-around game in recent seasons. Griffin becomes a UFA in 2018, and OKC would be foolish not to attempt grab one of its native sons and an impact player of his caliber.
Andrew Wiggins - Toronto Raptors
Wiggins is a Canadian basketball icon stuck in the US. The native of Vaughan, Ontario has already made history as just the second Canadian to be taken number one overall in the NBA draft and a vital member of the national team.
The 21-year-old star has the potential become the next NBA superstar; as a rookie in 2014-15, he joined LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Tobias Harris as the only players since 20 or younger to record at least 30 points, 10 boards and five assists in a game since the 2000-01 season.
The Raptors showed progress last season, appearing in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in their 21st season, but they proved themselves unable to outplay their competition, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ironically, Wiggins was drafted by the Cavs before being shipped to Minny in the Kevin Love deal.
A promising player like Wiggins would impact the Toronto franchise on the court, as well as off of it as a young player attempting to transform his home team into champions.
Wiggins will be a restricted free agent in 2018, at which point he should still have plenty of time to tap into his prodigious talent.