The Milwaukee Bucks and veteran forward Caron Butler have agreed to terms on a buyout, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Caron Butler has reached a contract buyout agreement with the Milwaukee Bucks, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 27, 2014
Butler was in the final year of a three-year, $24 million deal that was scheduled to pay him $8 million over the course of the 2013-14 season, per Spotrac.com.
The buyout comes as little surprise given Butler's contract and the Bucks' struggles. In mid-January, the Wisconsin native hinted at the possibility of being let go, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Charles F. Gardner:
I know I'll be in a good situation because it can't get worse. If something was to happen, I know I will be going somewhere pretty good and I'm definitely ready to compete at a high level.
I'm definitely well-rested. I'm healthy and I feel good.
As a result of the buyout, the 33-year-old small forward will soon become an unrestricted free agent, making him free to sign with any team in the league. Since the buyout was agreed to before March 1's playoff-eligibility waiver deadline, Butler will be eligible to play for a team in the postseason this spring. Wojnarowski noted that Butler was interested in joining a contender:
Oklahoma City and Miami have emerged as frontrunners to sign Caron Butler, with Chicago and San Antonio in pursuit too, sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 27, 2014
Butler, who was a back-to-back All-Star with the Washington Wizards in 2007 and 2008, started 47 playoff games since 2004 and is a 34.1 percent three-point shooter over his NBA career.
Although he has fallen off with age, averaging 11.0 points per game on 38.7 percent shooting from the field for the lowly Bucks this season, his long-range shooting prowess, defensive ability and experience will make him an intriguing target for several playoff-bound teams.
According to ESPN NBA insider Marc Stein, the Heat are a heavy favorite to land Butler:
The two-time defending champion Miami Heat, sources said, will be at the front of the line to sign Butler, who spent his first two seasons in the league with the Heat and is expected to verbally commit to a team before clearing waivers.
NBA.com's David Aldridge also highlights San Antonio and Oklahoma City as potential landing spots:
Bucks, Caron Butler near buyout, per source. Many around league think Heat likely destination. Spurs, Thunder also exploring.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 26, 2014
The Heat and Spurs are two championship-caliber clubs that immediately come to mind. Miami could certainly use Butler's defense out on the wings and his shooting to stretch the floor against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference.
As the Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman points out, Butler-to-Miami wouldn't be the first South Beach reunion with the potential to pay off:
A Caron Butler reunion would be perfect follow-up to previous Heat reunions with Eddie Jones, Bimbo Coles, Steve Smith, Alonzo Mourning.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) February 26, 2014
Meanwhile, the Spurs have been battling injury all year long and could also use Butler's services off the bench as they eye a return to the NBA Finals in 2014.
He already won a title with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 but missed their playoff run after undergoing surgery to repair a torn patella tendon during the regular season. You can bet he'll want another chance to contribute in the postseason.
For the Bucks, this move makes perfect sense as it aides their tanking aspirations and provides them with more freedom in their continued rebuilding efforts.
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