Caron Butler was part of a pretty special team in Miami. It featured Dwyane Wade in his rookie season, Lamar Odom, and Butler. It was a young, athletic team with players starting to come into their own. They upset the Hornets in the first round and then gave the Pacers a run in the second round before losing in six games. Then Pat Riley threw everything out there to get Shaq, and the dream was gone. It worked out for Miami because if you can win a title, you do the deal, no matter what it is. That validates everything. But it was a special team with great chemistry, and you have to wonder what could have been.
Apparently that thought is with Caron Butler as well, because Butler told our own Ira Winderman, writing for the Sun-Sentinel, that he nearly came back to Miami as a free agent.
“I was very close to coming back,” Butler, the Heats first-round pick in 2002 NBA Draft, said Wednesday, when the Heat faced the Clippers at Staples Center. “It was very close. I talked to my agent and I went to visit San Antonio and after I went to visit New Jersey, my next visit would have been Miami.”
Thats when the Clippers not only sprung their three-year, $24 million offer, but said they needed an immediate decision from the veteran small forward, as if they knew the sway Riley and Dwyane Wade might hold.
“The Clippers had put an offer on the table that I couldnt refuse,” Butler said on the night his 20 points went a long way toward defeating the Heat in overtime.
Butler would have fit well on the Heat, maybe even better than Shane Battier because of his mid-range jumper. Battier’s shooting leaves a lot to be desired and the Heat need a zone buster.
But you can’t go home again, and Butler took a huge deal that had many people wondering if the Clippers were insane for making. It’s going to look way worse in three years, but this season, Butler’s been worth it, as evidence by both his shooting earlier this week and his defense on Kobe Bryant Saturday night. But it’s nice to think of what could have been. Those teams that were for a short while and could have been have a special kind of infamy in the eyes of fans.