NBA Free Agent Rumors: Top Teams Fighting for Caron Butler
Usually, you don't fight over 31-year-olds who are coming off of devastating injuries that kept them out from the beginning of January throughout the postseason, but I suppose we'll have to make an exception in the case of the multi-talented Caron Butler.
Starting at small forward for the Dallas Mavericks last season, Butler was having the season of his career.
He might have had better statistical seasons with the Washington Wizards, when he was averaging 20 points per game, but this time Butler was contributing at an extremely effective rate on a championship team where he was pretty much the second scoring option behind Dirk Nowitzki.
Playing in only 29 games, Butler averaged 15 points per on 45 percent shooting from the field while converting on a career high of 43 percent from beyond the arc and nailing one three-pointer per game.
Caron fit perfectly on this team, as he wasn't a greedy player in the slightest, was willing to adjust to the Mavericks system and was able to facilitate an offense while also having the ability to score without the ball in his hands.
Butler is a strong player who can play three positions on offense and defense while containing the ability to hit from long range as well as utilizing his athleticism to drive. He may be 31 years old when the season commences, but he's still an incredible asset to possess for any team that's looking for a multi-dimensional player who can do it all.
Now it's being reported that Butler could absolutely be on the move, as he is showing no interest in returning to Dallas and possibly re-signing with the team that he won a championship with last year. Butler may be a little peeved with the team offering him only a one-year deal in an effort by the team to conserve money for the 2012 offseason, when they hope to make a strong push toward Deron Williams or Dwight Howard.
With the Mavericks now possibly being out of contention, a number of suitors have stepped up to the plate in hopes that they can land Butler. He's already met with a few teams and could be ready to make his decision within the week.
These teams in particular are the most likely to land Butler as their next starting small forward or shooting guard.
Los Angeles Clippers
Already meeting with the Clippers twice since the lockout ended, it turns out that Los Angeles just might be Butler's eventual landing spot when all is said and done.
A team that was once considered the laughing stock of the league may be getting the last laugh, as they're also attempting to land Chris Paul via trade in a deal that would send Mo Williams, Eric Bledsoe and Chris Kaman to New Orleans.
Even without Paul, the Clippers would be in good standing with Butler, as he'd be playing alongside two of the league's most talented, young players in second-year forward Blake Griffin and fourth-year guard Eric Gordon.
Butler would be filling a huge need at small forward and would round out one of the strongest starting lineups in the NBA with Williams at the 1, Gordon at the 2, himself at 3, Griffin at 4 and DeAndre Jordan at the 5.
The Clippers are finally looking to compete in a Pacific Division where there was only one quality team last year, which was their rivals in the L.A. Lakers. Butler would help put this team over the top, as he adds a consistent scorer from the mid-range and in the paint as well as a superb defender to help defend the 1 through 3.
Not to mention that the Clippers have an excess amount of funds and are willing to spend it on Butler, whom they are highly interested in.
The Chicago Bulls may not offer the money or the small forward position that the Clippers are offering, but they do offer something just as impressive—a possible championship within a year.
Unlike the Clippers, who will still have some work to do before becoming a championship contender, the Bulls are actually only a shooting guard away from being complete and possibly challenging the Miami Heat once again.
The Bulls have already met with Butler, and he seemed to be satisfied and pleased with how things transpired.
At a spot that's currently occupied by Keith Bogans, Butler would be an extreme upgrade and would add a little offense to a team that's in desperate need of a consistent second option to back up Derrick Rose in the scoring department.
The postseason proved to the Bulls organization that they need a consistent scorer, after Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng faltered under the bright lights of the Conference Finals.
With being an actual part of a championship team in mind, Butler may just turn down the money and instead go for the immediate chance of contending with the Bulls as well as having the possibility to play alongside the reigning MVP in Rose.
San Antonio Spurs
Talk about scorning your ex-team—the fact that Caron Butler is actually meeting with the San Antonio Spurs should be considered a slap in the face to the Dallas Mavericks.
In light of the Spurs utilizing the amnesty clause on former small forward Richard Jefferson, the team is now looking for a capable replacement to fill in, and they've set their sights on Butler.
The Spurs don't even have to put up a compelling argument—all they have to say is just look at the past decade. The Spurs have dominated the past decade with three championships and a fourth coming in 1999.
They've always been considered a championship contender since then and would be considered a huge contender once again if they do end up signing Butler.
However, the fact that Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are nearing retirement is going to raise some red flags for Butler.
He has no idea how this team is going to react to the loss of those two in the near future, and he also doesn't know how long those players have left in the tank. Butler joining the Spurs may turn out to be a bait-and-switch unless the team can get some capable young replacements.
New Jersey Nets
You don't expect Travis Outlaw to be the starter now, do you?
Outlaw, who may very well be the next in line to get amnestied, is set to be replaced by an outside source, and Caron Butler may just be the one to replace him, as the New Jersey Nets have set up a meeting with Butler.
The Nets are one of the latest names to throw their hat into the race for Butler, and they just may have the most convincing argument, considering that they show more promise than any of these teams—and that includes the Clippers.
Not only does New Jersey have Deron Williams, but they also have excess funds left over from last offseason, when they failed to land a superstar. That means that Butler will receive a large payday and be given the chance to play alongside arguably the league's top point guard.
As if the this pot couldn't get any sweeter, the Nets are also set to make a strong push toward Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, which would make this team an immediate title contender. Even before then, the Nets may just make a push toward Butler while also possibly signing Nene Hilario to play as their starting power forward.
No matter who signs him, Butler's going to walk away happy with either a lot of money or championship aspirations.
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