Skip to content

Winderman: When bad teams tank, good teams get rest

Apr 18, 2012, 12:25 PM EDT

Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade AP

This is where the lockout grinder of a schedule has delivered us. Picking and choosing. With opponents. And with players.

Wednesday night, when the Miami Heat host a very awful Toronto Raptors team, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be given the night off as part of coach Erik Spoelstra’s late-season “maintenance” program. No particular need to even define injuries at this stage.

Similarly, when the Chicago Bulls play at the historically bad Charlotte Bobcats, don’t expect to see Derrick Rose or Luol Deng.

To a degree, this may be nothing more than a case of rosters-by-TNT, with the cable network televising Thursday’s Heat-Bulls game.

And, yes, that is a game that still has meaning. Should the Heat win out (a possibility with a post-Bulls schedule that includes the Wizards twice, as well as the Rockets and Celtics) then one more Bulls loss (perhaps April 25 in the Pacers’ home finale) still could give the Heat the No. 1 seed in the East.

Stars on hiatus, of course, is nothing new in these closing weeks. Just ask Lakers assistant coach Kobe Bryant.

But part of it also is how awful the bottom of the league stands. This is not a case of tanking this season, this is epic tanking, tanking that practically deserves league intervention.

If the Raptors, Bobcats and other bottom-feeders weren’t so indifferent at this stage, then teams still with seeding at stake might actually have to play the players fans come out to see.

The solution would seem simple enough: David Stern should start swiping ping-pong balls, taking back some of those lottery combinations from teams that simply have quit on his sport.

That, of course, won’t be the case.

So instead we get games like Wednesday’s Bulls-Bobcats and Heat-Raptors, opening acts in advance of Thursday’s Heat-Bulls that are like an accordion player coming out to warm up the crowd for Springsteen.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker part of Spurs pitch to LaMarcus Aldridge (and they may be favorites)

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:01 AM EDT

    duncan-parker Getty Images

    The Spurs are right at the front of the line with the Lakers to win Aldridge over.

  2. Kyle Korver to have elbow surgery, no timetable for return

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:45 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two Getty Images

    We knew Korver would need ankle surgery, but this is a bit of a surprise.

  3. Report: LaMarcus Aldridge ‘leaning toward’ signing with Lakers

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:45 PM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Getty Images

    Aldridge is expected to leave Portland, and the most recent report has the Lakers as the frontrunners to retain his services.

  4. Report: Kobe Bryant called DeAndre Jordan to recruit him to Lakers

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    kobe

    Clippers remain frontrunners to retain Jordan’s services; Lakers, Mavericks also in the mix.

  5. Report: Pero Antic leaving NBA to play overseas

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    Pero Antic AP

    Antic was with the Hawks the last two seasons.

  6. Report: Chicago Bulls give Jimmy Butler max qualifying offer

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:50 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

    The bottom line is this: Butler is going to be a Bull next season.

  7. Suns coach Hornacek tries to quell Bledsoe trade rumors

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:16 PM EDT

    Eric Bledsoe, Jeff Hornacek, Goran Dragic

    The first rule of trading a player is to not look like you want to trade that player.

  8. LaMarcus Aldridge to meet with Raptors? That’s the report.

    Jun 29, 2015, 5:20 PM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat Getty Images

    Kind of hard to picture him going to the Raptors considering the other options on the table.

  9. Report: Dwyane Wade will not opt-in with Heat, to become free agent (as expected)

    Jun 29, 2015, 4:31 PM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Miami Heat Getty Images

    The real question for Wade and his effort to leverage the Heat: Who is going to give him more money than Miami?

  10. Report: Knicks front runner to land Arron Afflalo (and Greg Monroe, too)

    Jun 29, 2015, 3:44 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Portland Trail Blazers Getty Images

    The report says $12 million a year for Afflalo, that price seems steep.

  11. Report: Teams around league expect Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young to re-sign with Nets

    Jun 29, 2015, 3:18 PM EDT

    Brook Lopez Brook Lopez

    They are trying to keep those two while dealing Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.

  12. Report: Sacramento Kings may be interested in Eric Bledsoe trade

    Jun 29, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    New York Knicks v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    Expect the Bledsoe drama to play out through the summer. Again.

  13. Report: Luol Deng surprises Miami, opts in for 2015-16 season

    Jun 29, 2015, 1:55 PM EDT

    Miami Heat Media Day Getty Images

    He has more leverage this way, can get a longer deal.

  14. Report: Lakers, Clippers, Spurs, Bulls, Knicks all interested in Caron Butler

    Jun 29, 2015, 1:24 PM EDT

    Caron Butler AP

    Doesn’t Butler strike you as the kind of veteran the Spurs bring in and he’s rejuvenated?

  15. Report: Sense around league is Kevin Love will re-sign with Cavaliers

    Jun 29, 2015, 12:44 PM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four Getty Images

    The question is only what length of contract Love will sign.

  16. Greg Monroe on move out of Detroit: “I don’t want to be anywhere I’m not wanted”

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    Stan Van Gundy’s offense doesn’t really fit two traditional bigs.

  17. Report: Nets, Grizzlies discussed trade to send Joe Johnson to Memphis, but deal fell apart

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:37 AM EDT

    New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets

    There is interest in Joe Johnson out there, but his $24.9 million salary limits it.

  18. Report: Wizards would love to trade Nene, but there isn’t much interest around league

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:57 AM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

    The Wizards would like to find a stretch four this summer then play Nene more as a backup to Gortat.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. Aldridge (3596)
  2. D. Wade (3586)
  3. J. Embiid (3439)
  4. L. James (3348)
  5. D. Cousins (3258)
  1. K. Love (3146)
  2. K. Bryant (2721)
  3. N. Batum (2305)
  4. K. Durant (2254)
  5. K. Towns (2243)