UPDATE Jan. 4, 4:04 pm: What was rumored to be the case became official Tuesday when Butler underwent season-ending surgery to repair a ruptured right patellar tendon.
It is a particularly challenging thing for Butler, who will be a free agent this summer.
Jan. 3, 12:43 pm: We will not formally know how long Caron Butler will be out until the results of the MRI — and a treatment plan — are released later on Monday, but it’s not good. Look at it this way, the team is leaking that he may have a partially tearing his patella tendon, and the team is usually the most optimistic source for this kind of news.
So if no Caron Butler for the Mavericks, then who?
Shawn Marion made his case on Sunday with a 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting performance game. Granted, he was starting for the injured Dirk Nowitizki and it was against the Cavaliers. Still that is a quality line and a good sign. Marion has seen his minutes drop a little this season at age 32, but his production per possession is right where it was last season for Dallas — and his production per minute is very comparable to Butler’s.
However, Marion changes the offense when he is in. Butler gets 26.4 percent of his offense on spot-up jumpers and he is very efficient at it, including hitting 46.7 percent on spot up threes (according to Synergy Sports). Marion is not a good spot up shooter (29.9 percent overall and 21 percent from three). Marion gets his offense more off cuts and off-ball movement. Marion, as we have seen in the past when he was in Phoenix, can be a force in transition as well.
Jason Terry will see more minutes as well and his game is more similar to Butler. Terry is very effective and gets a quarter of his shots in catch-and-shoot situations (although Butler is better from three). Terry works well coming off screens and in transition, too.
The one other wild card is Rodrigue Beaubois. When the speedy point guard returns from injury — three weeks to a month from now —he will provide some depth lost when others had to step up for Butler (and Nowitzki), but he will change the offense as well. More transition chances, more drive and kick-plays. Terry is suited to both of those things.
Don’t look for Dallas to make a quick trade to fill the hole, Marc Stein of ESPN reports. They want to see what they have. Of course, if they could seriously get into the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes…. let’s not go there yet.