Butler Could Be Lightning Thunder Need


Caron Butler is expected to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder. This season Butler has played 34 games and started 13 for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks conclude their season in April, but the Thunder do not. Butler could be the lightning the Thunder need to compete for an NBA title.

Butler has career averages of 15.3 points per game on 43.6 percent shooting and 5.4 rebounds per game. He won the title with Dallas Mavericks in 2010-2011 although an asterisk should be attached to his contribution level during the championship run. The 6’7” wing played the same number of minutes as any fan watching the playoffs that year.

Butler, an NBA journeyman, has played for six teams and the Thunder would be his seventh. 50 percent of Butler’s 12-years in the league have resulted in playoff berths. Butler was a consistent starter on all of these teams, represented by his 47 games played and 47 games started stat line. The veteran has proven himself as a reliable player in any environment, regular season or playoffs, on the Los Angeles Lakers or Washington Wizards. A transition to the Thunder locker room should equal a positive outcome for both sides of the equation.

The Thunder have been hunting a roster shift like Steve Iriwn during crocodile season. Is there a crocodile season? Regardless, the Thunder’s determination was rewarded with the signing of Butler. The Thunder first explored a trade for Iman Shumpert before the deadline on Feb.20. The Thunder offered their 2014 first-round draft pick in exchange. The Knicks rebuked the deal thinking that Shumpert’s value was greater than a late first round pick.

Danny Granger was the next prospect of value for the Thunder. Granger’s suitors were the Clippers, Spurs, and Thunder. Butler and Granger have relatable variables. A comparable height, similar position in their career, and both are point scorers that rely on the deep ball. Butler’s shot a 36.1 three-point percentage for the Bucks. Yahoo Sports Adrian Wojnarowski speculates that the Thunder stopped pursuing Granger when they were confident that the Bucks would buy out Butler’s contract and he would sign with them. Granger is signing with the Clippers, Butler is expected to sign with the Thunder, and the no one is expected to sign with the Miami Heat. The heat expressed interest in both candidates.

The 11-46 Bucks also benefited from the buyout. Butler was tied with O.J. Mayo for the highest paid player on their roster at $8 million for the 2013-2014. The Bucks reduced their team salary during a forgettable season and Butler is the lightning bench points the Thunder need.

Considerable time spent by the Thunder on roster additions is a beneficial sign for Butler. A speculative foresight is that he will receive material minutes as the Thunder attempt to finish the season first in the western conference and carry that momentum into lengthy playoff run. The Kendrick Perkins injury also opens up the door for the fifth ranked points per game Thunder to play small and fast with Butler at the small forward and Kevin Durant at the power forward.

An intriguing stat line at the conclusion of the season will be the impact of late season additions. Granger is expected to assist the Clippers, and Butler can be the lighting for the Thunder.

Commentary by Niles Olson



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