NBA: Dwyane Wade signing with Chicago Bulls a sign that tanking no longer an appealing option
Let’s take a look at the career three-point shooting percentages for Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler:
Rondo: .289? Ew!
Wade: .284? Gross!
Butler: .328. Not great.
Anyway, meet your new Chicago Bulls starting back court: two of the worst three-point shooters in league history and an All-Star shooting guard who is being moved to the wing to accommodate the signing of a 34-year-old with bad knees.
Wade spurning the Miami Heat to sign with the Bulls on Wednesday is just the latest, craziest deal in an NBA free-agency window full of crazy deals.
And it also represents an interesting trend: the age of tanking in the league might be over.
When the Bulls opened the off-season by trading former MVP Derrick Rose to New York, then reportedly exploring trade options for Butler, all indications were the Bulls were tearing the team down to rebuild.
Instead, they kept Butler, signed Rondo, then brought Wade in, indicating that they intend to try and win some games this season. Whether they do win with that putrid shooting remains to be seen, but hey, points for effort.
And effort is, regrettably, a sign of progress for the historically top-heavy NBA. And no, the top-heaviness isn’t changing any time soon with the Kevin Durant-led leviathan in Golden State and LeBron James still tearing up Cleveland.
But even if there are only a couple of teams with legitimate title credentials, that hasn’t stopped the rest of the league from spending their record amount of salary-cap money.
The league is notorious for having teams out-right putting out inferior rosters in an effort to gain a higher draft pick. Chicago, which also lost Joakim Noah, was a prime candidate to go the tanking route, but Wade changes that.
The Philadelphia 76ers, long the poster-child for tanking, made effort to try and sign free agents and improve their roster. The Los Angeles Lakers were practically begging players to take their money. The Denver Nuggets offered Wade more money than Chicago. Orlando traded for Serge Ibaka.
Then there are the teams that lost talent. Miami lost Wade and couldn’t convince Durant to come to South Beach, but they re-signed emerging star Hassan Whiteside. Oklahoma City no longer have Durant, but they made an exciting trade for Victor Oladipo, who will pair with a top-5 player in Russell Westbrook (unless he’s traded). Atlanta lost Al Horford, but replaced him with Dwight Howard.
The league’s worst teams probably realise they’re going to be bad for a while, but in a reverse of a trend that has hurt the league for a while, these teams aren’t completely shedding salary or throwing intentional disasters on the court.
For the first time in a long time, it feels like all 30 teams actually want to win, or at least put on the appearance of wanting to win. What a novel concept!
The path of least resistance would have been for Chicago to trade Butler for draft picks and hold on to their money. The path of least resistance is the way most teams have gone for a long time. That path appears to be closing for now, and the league will be better for it.
The Bulls are still going to stink, though.
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Published: July 7, 2016 04:00 AM