After being selected 10th overall in the 2002 draft by the Miami Heat, Caron Butler was quite unhappy with the nine teams that passed on him.
To quote him verbatim:
"I'm going to make them pay for the rest of my career."
Since then, Butler has been part of two trades. The second was definitely the more questionable one.
First, Butler was traded to Los Angeles along with Lamar Odom and Brian Grant as part of the Shaq deal in 2005.
Then, after a disappointing 34-48 season with the Lakers in which he averaged 15.5 PPG, Butler was promptly traded to the Washington Wizards.
That was a head-scratcher.
Butler was traded with Chucky Atkins in exchange for Kwame Brown and Laron Profit. At the time, I understood that the Lakers needed a big man who could produce...
But Kwame Brown? A guy who'll go down as one of the worst first-overall picks in sports history?
Now, all that's left is the hypothetical: What if the trade that sent Butler to Washington never happened?
An athletic scorer and defender, Butler seemed to be the ideal complement to Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom in Phil Jackson's system. You have to figure the Lakers with Butler would have been better than they were in the last two seasons, when they were twice bounced from the playoffs in the first round.
Butler's consistent scoring would have made him an especially valuable asset. CB has already shown himself to be a 20 PPG scorer—even if he has other 20 PPG scorers alongside him.
Imagine a starting lineup of Derek Fisher, Bryant, Butler, Odom, and Andrew Bynum.
Not too bad, if you ask me—but I guess now we can only wonder what might have been.
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