Mavs’ Butler still hoping to return, “unlikely” for first round


We’ve told you before that Dallas forward Caron Butler is busting his, um, hump to get back to the team this season. He suffered a ruptured patella tendon three months ago but will not give up the dream of being there for a playoff run.

He won’t be back for the regular season, and now you can count out the first round of the playoffs, too. That’s what coach Rick Carlisle told ESPN Dallas.

“I can’t give you a medical opinion,” Carlisle said. “My coaching opinion is, his jump shot looks great. He’s doing great and he’s way ahead of schedule. But timetable-wise, I don’t have one. He’s been able to step up his activity moderately, but he’s not running yet or anything like that.

“It’s extremely unlikely we’ll see him in the first round.”

All credit to Butler for the effort, but this was a longshot from the start. It says a lot about Butler and his relationship to his teammates. But integrating a key piece back in during the second round — likely against the Lakers — creates its own sets of problems.