Wisconsin native Caron Butler made it clear that he thinks the Bucks will release him rather than guarantee his $4.5MM for next season, saying via text to Racine Sports Zone, “There’s no story here. I’m going to be a free agent on July 1st,” according to SB Nation’s Eric Buenning (Twitter link; hat tip to Marc Stein of ESPN.com). None of Butler’s salary for 2015/16 is guaranteed, but the full $4.5MM would be guaranteed if the Bucks don’t waive him by the close of business on June 30th. Milwaukee reacquired Butler, who played for the team during the first half of the 2013/14 season, in Thursday’s Ersan Ilyasova trade.
The Bucks have their sights set on signing a marquee free agent center, targeting Brook Lopez, Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan, while also prioritizing the addition of a strong perimeter defender and a shooter, as Stein reported overnight. The Bucks have only about $36MM in guaranteed salary for next season, but given their plans for July, it would make sense that they’d want to retain as much flexibility as possible.
Butler and Milwaukee could circle back and work a new deal if he clears waivers, but Butler said in April that if the Pistons released him, he’d only consider signing with contending teams. The Bucks may well have a shot to win the Eastern Conference if they succeed in acquiring all of their targets, though it’d be a stretch to see them emerging as favorites. Still, Butler, at 35 years old, wouldn’t necessarily have his choice of intriguing offers, as he’s coming off career lows in points (5.9) and minutes (20.8) per game. He nonetheless shot 37.9% on 2.8 three-point attempts per game last season, so he at least still appears to have value as a spot-up shooter.
Milwaukee also acquired Shawne Williams in Thursday’s trade, though it’s not immediately clear what the Bucks plan to do with him and his minimum salary, which doesn’t become fully guaranteed until January. Williams shot 39.5% from behind the arc during the first half of this past season when he started in half of his 44 appearances as a member of the Heat, so he would seemingly be an option for the Bucks to consider as they look at shooters.