It remains to be seen to a certain extent, but Caron Butler appears to be the one player made available during the NBA’s unofficial buyout season that has a true chance of impacting his new team’s playoff chances.
That team is the Oklahoma City Thunder, who apparently had more to offer in their sales pitch than did the Miami Heat.
Speaking at a charity event on Sunday afternoon, Heat executive Pat Riley explained that he was indeed interested in retaining Butler’s services. He just couldn’t promise an impactful role with the team, based on the depth already in place on the roster.
“I think when you look at our roster, and I think in our conversations with them, they wanted a meaningful role, and I don’t blame them,” Riley said. “And we’re pretty deep. When you’ve got James Jones and Udonis Haslem and Rashard Lewis in those positions, they’re waiting, and Mike [Beasley] and Greg [Oden] are getting minutes from [roster spots] nine and 10. They were looking for something else.
“We love Caron. We reached out to him. But he was very definitive with what he wanted and I don’t think it’s something we could have promised.”
Interestingly enough, Thunder GM Sam Presti similarly said that nothing was promised, and especially made it clear that there were no minutes guaranteed during the recruiting process.
It’s worth noting that Butler was a member of the 2011 NBA champion Mavericks, but didn’t play at all in the postseason due to injury. He didn’t need to ride the pine in Miami for another hollow title, and perhaps the theoretical availability of a meaningful bench role with the Thunder will ultimately prove to be the best choice.