NBA Rumor: Clippers are interested in Caron Butler


Oct 29, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Caron Butler (31) during the game against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 89-79. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers’ offseason rebuild is off to a successful start. Now, the next supposed target is free agent small forward Caron Butler, who has been released by the Milwaukee Bucks (since they acquired him from the Detroit Pistons) after his 13th season in the NBA.

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The Clippers have made some very notable changes to their team already, though. They’ve traded Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes to the Charlotte Hornets to add some additional rebounding, perimeter defense and potential ear blowing with Lance Stephenson, and have acquired power forward Branden Dawson of Michigan State in the 2015 NBA draft.

With those two additions, it’s clear the Clippers have focussed on improving their defense, after finishing this season ranked a dead average 15th in defensive efficiency. However, with Stephenson being able to defend guards and some smaller forwards, and Dawson having the potential to guard every position from 1-4, Doc Rivers is certainly heading in the right direction (for more analysis of Dawson, read my latest column here).

Next on the list is believed to be Paul Pierce, now that he’s officially opted out of his contract with the Washington Wizards and is believed to either resign with them or head to Los Angeles to reunite with head coach Doc Rivers. In addition to Pierce, though, RealGM has reported that Caron Butler will draw interest from multiple teams, including the Clippers:

"After his release from the Milwaukee Bucks before July 1, Caron Butler has emerged as a candidate for the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs, a league source told RealGM. The Lakers and New York Knicks also expect to make an inquiry on Butler, a 13-year NBA veteran who has averaged 14.3 points and 5.1 rebounds for his career."

Butler has well and truly reached the stage of his career when he’s being reduced into the role of wily veteran, but he’s still made a difference as an efficient three point shooter at the very least. He was a two-time All-Star from 2006-08 during his first stint with the Washington Wizards, and averaged at least 19.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in both those seasons. Since then, his production has slowly declined.

Butler even became a member of the Clippers from 2011-13, and averaged 11.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.7 steals per game whilst shooting 41.5 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from three point range. And those are solid numbers, although if he does end up rejoining the Clippers this summer (which is obviously nothing more than immediate speculation at this point) his role will be smaller.

Feb 28, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) brings the ball up court as Detroit Pistons forward Caron Butler (31) looks on during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Yet after averaging just over 20 minutes per game with the Detroit Pistons this year, Butler is by no means unable to produce worthy minutes off the bench. Even if it’s just to make 37.9 percent of his threes, 90.1 percent of his free throws and little else.

He won’t play 26.6 minutes per game like he previously did with the Clippers, and if Jamal Crawford stays Butler definitely won’t see as many minutes. That being said, if the Clippers are able to entice Paul Pierce to L.A. — with the relationship he has with Doc Rivers, the fact L.A. is his hometown and the Clippers have three All-NBA players in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan — they wouldn’t need to delve into the possible signing of Caron Butler at all.

As always, NBA free agency can be a constant whirlwind of rumors and possibilities. We’ll wait and see how the Clippers’ aim to add another wing player continues, but due to his seemingly never-ending clutch ability and vocal veteran leadership, Paul Pierce is the more desirable target when considering what the Clippers need.

They already ranked 3rd this year in three pointers made per game, so with a player such as The Truth who can offer some mental toughness as well, it’s unlikely the Clippers will reduce their pursuit of him in order to target a shooter who offers little else. Although, if Doc Rivers can’t find anyone else to sign with his extremely limited cap space and Pierce resigns with Washington, maybe Caron Butler will be an option he’ll consider.

Next: Branden Dawson is exactly what the Clippers need