NBA player carousel may finally be over

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NBA player carousel may finally be over

From the fan who despises him the most to the player himself, it's safe to say that anybody who was still paying attention is relieved that the Dwight Howard trade saga is over. But while many have focused on the current culture of the NBA, in which players can demand to go to their preferred destination, either via trade or as free agents, a cursory look at the landscape shows that there simply aren't many more moves to be made when it comes to the league's top talent.
Over the past few years, we've seen Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Deron Williams all force their way out of town to major markets, while the likes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Amar'e Stoudemire departed in free agency. That doesn't even include Dwyane Wade helping Pat Riley put together the "Big Three" in Miami, max contract extensions for Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook or Joe Johnson signing a massive extension in Atlanta, then getting traded to Brooklyn to pair up with Williams.
The list goes on -- Dirk Nowitzki's extension in Dallas, Blake Griffin's max deal from the Clippers, Kevin Garnett postponing retirement to take another shot at a title in Boston, Ray Allen leaving the Celtics for the Heat, Steve Nash leaving the Suns for his former rival Lakers and, of course, Derrick Rose's five-year pact to stay in his hometown -- but you get the point: NBA superstars, for the most part, likely won't be changing uniforms for a while.
Barring impatient front-office types getting antsy -- imagine if the Lakers are somehow a bust or the Knicks still can't find a way to get Anthony and Stoudemire to co-exist harmoniously on the court -- don't anticipate the same whirlwind of player movement, not from top-tier stars, in the near future.
After the league's more free-spending franchises went all-in on marquee players, they have no choice but to see how things play out this season, lest tacitly admitting to fans that they made major mistakes, and that the rosters they assembled aren't truly equipped to get to the promised land. Whether it's the old guard of the Lakers, Celtics and Knicks or upstarts like the Heat, Mavericks and Nets -- the Spurs are exceptions to that rule, as an upper-echelon team that's competitive while exhibiting fiscal responsibility; it remains to be seen what route the Thunder, their management-style descendants, will ultimately choose -- a win-now mentality has mostly superseded building through the draft or developing young players around the NBA, meaning that the future is treated as some distant thing that may or may not be around for organizations to enjoy with their current stars.
Now that Howard's saga has been temporarily resolved, there aren't many impact players presently on the block, according to league scuttlebutt, and middling free-agent class next summer (the aforementioned Paul, Atlanta's Josh Smith and potentially Oklahoma City's restricted free-agent duo of James Harden and Serge Ibaka, underrated veteran Al Jefferson and recently-jettisoned dominant centers Howard and Andrew Bynum top the list) doesn't allow most teams to drastically improve instantaneously, placing even more significance on how things shake out this season.
Trades can always be made, but without the drama of a star demanding out of his current locale, the upcoming NBA campaign, barring major in-season injuries, could be somewhat of a throwback year, as what happens on the court, not off of it, is the main focus.

After loss to Mavs, Wade says Bulls 'keep putting (their) hand on the hot stove every day'

After loss to Mavs, Wade says Bulls 'keep putting (their) hand on the hot stove every day'

Dwyane Wade sounded every bit like a frustrated 35-year old father when talking about the repeated ills and so-called growing pains of his Bulls, as they surrendered yet another game against a sub-.500 team.

Sometimes it's the New York Knicks whom the Bulls are offering temporary refuge. Or maybe the Minnesota Timberwolves as they are all-too-generous to roll out the welcome mat for returning figures to Chicago.

Tuesday it was the Dallas Mavericks, the second-worst team in the Western Conference, who stormed into the United Center and escaped with a 99-98 win, courtesy of Wesley Matthews' triple with 11.7 seconds left followed by him locking down Jimmy Butler on the ensuing possession.

Wade was forced to take a contested 21-footer that went awry, but the Bulls' ills went far beyond the last two possessions, when the Mavericks exploited their strategy yet again.

"Either you learn the lesson or figure out," Wade said. "Keep putting your hand on the hot stove every day.

"We just gotta figure out not to put our hands on that stove. And understand when we come in the kitchen, that stove is hot, don't touch it. As I continue to say, this is a very young team and they have to play in these games and have to go through these moments. The one thing you want, whether it's this year or next year, is to not make the same mistakes."

The Bulls are apparently insistent on touching the stove and keep burning themselves, the most recent time with the confusion or the bad strategy in defending the Mavericks' final offensive possession.

Deron Williams found himself with Nikola Mirotic defending him off a switch from Jimmy Butler. Not the quickest afoot, Mirotic gave Williams an easy path to the basket and Wade was the backside help, not wanting to leave Matthews on the wing for a triple.

But with the bench commanding Wade to help, Williams easily found Matthews for an open 3 as Wade had no help for his man. With the Bulls up two, one could see how Wade didn't want to leave Matthews.

"I'll have to go back and watch, but it looks like Deron got downcourt, Wade went over to help and we didn’t rotate accordingly," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We obviously need to do a better job of staying in front of the other end."

Mirotic was supposed to be brought back slowly in his return from strep throat, but he played the entire fourth quarter and 22 minutes overall, having lost eight pounds with his illness that had him miss four games.

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Their issues were game-long and have been seasonlong as the Mavericks were supposed to absorb a shellacking from a Bulls team that felt a 25-point beatdown in Texas last month.

Instead, they would've been happy with settling for an escape when Butler rose up over his college teammate Matthews for a 20-foot wing jumper with 22.8 seconds left.

Butler nearly added a triple-double and clutch moment to his growing resume with 24 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds but was dogged by Matthews all night, the defender who wouldn't give him airspace, went chest-to-chest and even earned a technical foul when he felt Butler exaggerated some contact in the third quarter.

"He took away my space, wouldn't let me get to my spot," Butler said of Matthews. "Good for him. I should've did something different."

Wade missed 13 of his 21 shots, scoring 17 with five rebounds on his 35th birthday

With scoring at a premium, Robin Lopez had a season-high 21 points being guarded by Dirk Nowitzki — and they were necessary considering the Bulls were without Taj Gibson (ankle injury) and Doug McDermott couldn't repeat his 30-point showing from Sunday in Memphis.

Rick Carlisle has long been regarded as one of the top strategic coaches, and though he doesn't have the usual personnel from the Mavericks' salad days, he had enough tricks up his sleeve to throw the Bulls off.

Six Mavericks scored in double figures, led by Harrison Barnes' 20 points and Seth Curry's 18, as Barnes, Matthews and Curry combined for eight triples — spreading the Bulls out and picking them apart defensively.

The Mavericks started Nowitzki at center, going to an almost all-small lineup. And though Lopez scored 14 points in the first half, trying to feed him seemed to take the Bulls out of it in the second half.

The energy was tardy to the party, as they shot just 41 percent in the first half but woke up a little in the third quarter — continuing their all-too familiar trend of half-hearted efforts against lesser teams.

And it looks like the ever-optimistic Wade is dishing out some realism, probably something that comes with the perspective of turning 35.

"You can't keep getting stressed out or frustrated. We've been going through this all year. We'll get back in in the morning.

"Once you realize who you are, you're better off. I sleep better at night. Once we want to be a better team and start winning games, we will. I'm not mad, I'm not frustrated, I'm not stressed. Just taking the hits."

Bulls' Rajon Rondo oddly runs behind back of former coach Rick Carlisle

Bulls' Rajon Rondo oddly runs behind back of former coach Rick Carlisle

Is Rajon Rondo avoiding his former coach?

During Tuesday night's Bulls-Mavericks game, Rondo awkwardly ran behind Mavs coach Rick Carlisle as the third quarter was winding down.

Take a look at the play in the video above.

Rondo, who played with the Mavericks in the 2014-15 season, had a weird relationship with Carlisle. Most notably, he and Carlisle had a heated exchange during a game on Feb. 24, 2015 against the Toronto Raptors. It eventually led to Carlisle saying that Rondo was a bad fit for the Mavericks and that the team should have never traded for him.

On Tuesday, Rondo apparently shook Carlisle's hand before he checked in the game for the first time in the first quarter. 

All is well, it seems, but that was still weird.