Caron Butler is tired of being on entertaining teams, he'll take dull and a ring

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Thumbnail image for Butler_Dunk.jpgVariations of this theme seem to play out wherever Caron Butler goes.

Last season heading into the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks looked like the team ready to test the Lakers. Dallas was the two seed, they had won 7 of 10 including five in a row. There was a quiet, veteran confidence around the team.

Then the San Antonio Spurs bounced them in the first round.

Butler doesn’t like it. He was on teams that were fun to watch with the Heat, the Lakers and there were a lot of “what could have beens” in Washington. Dallas felt different, but it wasn’t. He said it is time for a change.

“You’ve got the war wounds,” Butler said from his Washington D.C. home last week. “You’ve been through the trying times off the court not achieving your goal. You’ve been working hard all summer long then to fall short, that hurts. It’s time to feel the other side of that and let somebody else feel this.”

That’s why Butler has been in the gym and riding his bike, why he’s heading up to Tim Grover’s in Chicago to work out with the guru for a month. He wants the taste of champagne in his mouth through next summer.

And he believes Dallas is close. They just need to get more stops.

“Controlling the glass, focusing on defense,” need to be the focus, Butler said. “Because we can score with the best of them. We have a great player, we have a Hall of Fame point guard and whole bunch of other guys that want to get it done and are willing to sacrifice whatever to win. We’ve just got to put it all together and we will.”

Having centers like Brendan Haywood and bringing in Tyson Chandler helps with that, he added.

“Tyson is a guy who brings a lot of energy and athleticism to our front line. I’m looking forward to playing along side of him and pushing toward the ultimate goal of winning a championship,” Butler said.

Dallas, with their efficient offense, can be fun to watch — but no team Butler was on was probably more fun to watch than the Miami Heat in 2003. That squad had Butler, Lamar Odom, Eddie Jones, Brian Grant at his peak, a young Dwyane Wade and was just bursting with promise.

“It was fun, it was real fun,” Butler said of those days. “I obviously really miss Miami, but I have great guys there, I have friendships with Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, my big brother Eddie Jones and obviously our man Dwyane Wade.”

But Butler went to Los Angeles (along with Odom) as part of the Shaquille O’Neal trade. A trade that brought a ring to Miami. But does Butler ever think about what might have been if the Heat had let that young core ride?

“At times I do, but you don’t want to think about it too much,” he said. “And you never know what could happen, you could team up with those guys again.”

Butler went to Los Angeles, where he and Kobe Bryant became tight and the Lakers started to show promise — then Butler was shipped to Washington with Kwame Brown (who eventually was traded for Pau Gasol, bringing titles to L.A.) In Washington Butler was teamed with Gilbert Arenas and Antwan Jamison on a squad that looked on paper like it should have been better than it was. Then last season that team imploded around the Arenas gun charges.

But Butler landed on his feet, traded to a contending Dallas squad and… well, we’ve been down that road.

Butler has too, and he wants a change.

“I definitely have been on some real good teams that had the talent to make it to that next level, but somehow some way fell short,” Butler said. “I don’t want that to be the situation here in Dallas. I look forward to taking it to the next level.”

PBT Extra: Five players to watch heading into the NBA’s trade deadline

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It’s going to be a slow NBA trade deadline this year.

The reason it will be relatively quiet on Feb. 7 (the deadline day) this year is reflected in the five players to watch talked about in this PBT Extra. The bottom line: There are far more buyers than sellers.

Take Trevor Ariza in Washington, for example. A number of playoff teams are looking for wings on expiring contracts to help them out — the Rockets and Lakers are at the front of that line — but Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has said the team the team will not tank, so is Ariza even available.

Or, what about Terrence Ross in Orlando? Another wing a lot of teams have interest in, but is Orlando selling?

And while the Dallas Mavericks have made public overtures about reconciliation with Dennis Smith Jr., sources tell me the plan on both sides is still to find a trade, it’s just right now the offers are lowball ones (because the Mavs have no leverage and there will be good young point guards such as Terry Rozier and D'Angelo Russell available in July as restricted free agents, and teams like them better).

Still, there will be trades. These are the guys to watch.

Report: Hornets rookie Miles Bridges to compete in dunk contest

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Want to see more dunks like this and this?

Watch the dunk contest during All-Star weekend.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Miles Bridges, the No. 12 pick in last year’s draft, has quickly proven himself as belonging in the Hornets’ rotation. He’s active, capable of getting to the rim and picks up defensive concepts quickly.

But like most rookies picked in the middle of the first round, he hasn’t yet earned a national profile.

The dunk contest will be his opportunity to change that.

Bulls’ Wendell Carter reportedly out 8-12 weeks following thumb surgery

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Wendell Carter Jr. has had a strong rookie season in Chicago: 10.3 points a game, 7 rebounds, showing real strength and touch inside and getting 67 percent of his shot attempts in the paint. The advanced stats like him: He’s got an above average PER and Value over Replacement Player, something very rare for a rookie. He looks like a key part of the future in Chicago.

And he’s out for the next two-to-three months.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune first reported that Carter might have ligament damage in his left thumb requiring surgery, and that coach Jim Boylen said Carter was seeing a specialist. Shams Charania of The Athletic took it to the next step.

That’s a blow to his development but doesn’t really change the trajectory of a Bulls team that will pick high in next June’s draft.

This does not change the Bulls’ plans heading into the trade deadline — big man Robin Lopez is still available (but likely will end up a buyout candidate) reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Bobby Portis will get more run with Carter out.

The young Bulls have been hit hard by injuries this season.  Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Portis have all missed time, and Denzel Valentine has yet to play a game for Chicago this season.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis: ‘We will never, ever tank’

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Before the season, Wizards owner Ted Leonsis stated his goals: 50 wins and the conference finals.

Washington is 19-26 and 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Time to shift priorities?

NBC Sports Washington:

Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington:

The Wizards are too talented to tank right now. Led by Bradley Beal, they have a roster of capable veterans. They just traded for Trevor Ariza, making that even more true.

As bad as they’ve been, the Wizards are just 2.5 games and three teams out of playoff position. They will likely miss the postseason, but there’s no alternative better than trying to get there. They’re too far down the road toward winning now to simply pivot into a rebuilding.

But what about if the Wizards get eliminated from playoff contention with games left in the season? They won’t tank down the stretch to improve their draft position? What’s the point of that?

And what about future seasons? Washington will have a tough time building a satisfactory winner after signing John Wall to a super-max extension that kicks in next season. That difficult-to-move contract almost mandates the Wizards prioritize the present. A healthy Wall is good enough to ensure Washington can’t bottom out – for now.

Wall be 32 in the final year of that deal. The Wizards could be in ruins by then. Taking the option to tank off the table would be a mistake.

To be fair, I’m not totally sure Leonsis is doing that. Owners almost never admit to tanking. Most deny it.

But this goes a level beyond. This is far more forceful than Leonsis had to be, which makes me believe it’s actually his plan.

That’s fine right now. Eventually, it could make a futile situation far worse.