Caron Butler

Caron Butler Announces Retirement

Veteran NBA forward Caron Butler has announced his retirement as a player, publishing a piece today for The Players’ Tribune to confirm his decision.

“It’s been a great ride and truly a blessing,” Butler wrote. “But everything runs its course, even good things. Today, I’m retiring from the NBA.”

Butler, who will turn 38 next month, was selected by the Heat with the 10th overall pick in the 2002 draft and spent two years in Miami before being traded to the Lakers. The former UConn standout ultimately played for seven more NBA teams, joining the Wizards, Mavericks, Clippers, Bucks, Thunder, and Pistons before spending his last NBA season with the Kings in 2015/16.

In 881 career regular season games, Butler averaged 14.1 PPG and 5.0 RPG, racking up 12,430 points over the course of his 14 NBA seasons. The two-time All-Star also appeared in 65 postseason games, winning a title with the Mavericks in 2011, though he was unable to suit up for Dallas during those playoffs due to an injury.

After joining ESPN as a college basketball analyst in the fall, Butler said today in his Players’ Tribune article that he plans to remain involved in the game even though his days as a player are over.

“Playing in the NBA was a dream — I got to spend 16 years with all of these great teammates and coaches,” Butler wrote. “It was better than I ever could’ve imagined. I may be retiring from the game, but I’ll stay close to it. I’ll be around it in some form or another. “

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Allen, Simmons, Russell

The Celtics‘ decision to trade Isaiah Thomas is drawing anger from some former players on social media, relays Andrew Joseph of USA Today. Caron Butler blasted the deal on Instagram, saying “Celtics traded a guy who played in a game for them a day after his sister died, but y’all expect players to be loyal to the franchise, sure.”

Butler’s post drew a response from ex-Celtic Ray Allen, who alienated many teammates in 2012 when he signed with the Heat. The bitter feelings still linger, as Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce excluded Allen from a Celtics reunion in May. “But since the team does it I guess it’s just business,” Allen wrote in response to Butler’s post. “Smh!! It is just a business so when the teams do it there’s no difference when the players do it!!”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Thomas family is taking a different approach to the deal, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Thomas’ father, James, offered thanks to the Celtics for the opportunities they gave Isaiah. “There were good times in Boston,” he said. “They were good to us. They gave my son a chance to play in the NBA. It’s nothing against them. I have only good things to say. I can’t cut them. Hey, every starter that was there this year is gone except one. Maybe they did what was best for Boston, or at least they think they did.”
  • After missing all of last season while recovering from a broken foot, the Sixers‘ Ben Simmons has been medically cleared for basketball activities, according to Tom Moore of GateHouse Media (Twitter link). The first overall pick in 2016 reportedly participated in a recent pickup game in Australia.
  • After moving from the Lakers to the Nets in an offseason trade, D’Angelo Russell has bigger goals than just helping Brooklyn improve after a 20-win season, writes Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily“I want teams to hate us,” Russell said. “We’ve struggled over the last few years in Brooklyn. Teams are used to coming in and taking nights off. I just want to rebuild that and make it a place where people come and say, ‘alright we got the crowd against us. It’s New York.’”

Free Agent Notes: T. Jones, Celtics, Butler, Hawks

Having cleared waivers and reached free agency, Terrence Jones had interest in joining the Celtics, and his camp initiated talks with the club, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. However, according to Himmelsbach, the former Pelicans big man is unlikely to land with the Cs.

While Jones is one of the more appealing options available on the buyout market, a source tells Himmelsbach that the 25-year-old is hoping to find a team that would allow him to play significant minutes. The Celtics could use a big man, but they have a fairly deep rotation and are carrying 15 players on guaranteed contracts, so Jones may not get the opportunity he’s seeking in Boston.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA related to free agency:

  • Caron Butler hasn’t played on an NBA team this season, but the veteran forward hasn’t opted for retirement yet, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, who tweets that Butler is interested in catching on with a playoff team.
  • In a conversation with TNT’s David Aldridge, free agent center Larry Sanders says that he believes he’s more mature and mentally stronger now than he was during his last stint in the NBA. According to Aldridge, Sanders has told NBA teams that he’s willing to play in the D-League if they want him to go there first.
  • The Hawks are in no hurry to sign a free agent to fill the open spot on their roster, as Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution details. “We will probably take a few days and see what happens over the next few days and maybe more,” Budenholzer said. “It’s good to have that flexibility to figure out what we want to do. We won’t rush to do anything in the next day or two.”

Bucks’ D-League Decision Expected Soon

The Hawks recently announced that they’ll purchase and control a D-League franchise, making them the 23rd NBA team to get an affiliate. An announcement on a 24th D-League team could come soon, according to Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times. Bucks president Peter Feigin tells Woeflel that the club is expected to make a decision on a home for its D-League affiliate “before Thanksgiving.”

[RELATED: Hawks to purchase, control D-League affiliate]

As Woefel details, the Wisconsin cities of Racine, Oshkosh, and Sheboygan have been cited as the candidates to become the home of the Bucks’ potential D-League affiliate, so the chosen city won’t be far from Milwaukee. Feigin confirmed that all three locations remain in the mix.

According to Woelfel, Racine officials – including Mayor John Dickert – have been negotiating with the Bucks for more than a year about the possibility of the team’s D-League squad playing in the city. Dickert, who says that Racine native Caron Butler could get involved as an investor if the Bucks decide to move forward with the city, intends to pursue an arena project regardless of the club’s decision, since he hopes to attract a minor league hockey team.

[RELATED: D-League affiliations for 2016/17]

Over the summer, Adam Johnson of D-League Digest made a case for why the Bucks should strongly consider Sheboygan for the home of their D-League affiliate.

Eastern Notes: Udrih, J.R. Smith, Sixers, Butler

Beno Udrih has no assurances of playing time despite re-signing with the Heat, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. Udrih gives the club a natural point guard behind starter Goran Dragic, but combo guards Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson will also see action at that position, Jackson continues. Udrih signed a one-year guaranteed deal at the veteran’s minimum of $1.4MM. Udrih had a standing offer from the Heat for more than a month, sources told Jackson, and turned down some other options because of his comfort level with the organization.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • Free agent J.R. Smith doesn’t appear to be close to signing a contract, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Cavs’ shooting guard is deferring all questions about his free agency to agent Rich Paul. Smith is expected to rejoin Cleveland and is believed to be seeking a multi-year deal worth approximately $15MM per season, Fedor continues. There’s been little interest from other teams because of Smith’s past antics, Fedor adds.
  • The Sixers will play three nationally televised games, and coach Brett Brown believes that’s a sign of progress, Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com reports. Philadelphia hasn’t had a game broadcast nationally since the 2012/13 season. “It’s really I think a statement to the way the public views our young, exciting team,” Brown said in a podcast on the team’s website.
  • Caron Butler would be interested in signing with the Knicks, tweets Anthony Donahue of SNY. During an appearance on Donahue’s “33rd and 7th” podcast, Butler said he likes the moves that New York made during the offseason. Butler, 36, spent last season with the Kings and appeared in just 17 games.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Heat Notes: Butler, Chalmers, Westbrook, Weber

Heat president Pat Riley reached out to Caron Butler‘s agent, but the team opted for younger players in its flurry of signings last Sunday, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Riley’s initial call came before Dwyane Wade decided to join the Bulls, Jackson reports, and he hasn’t called since. The Kings waived the 36-year-old Butler last week. He spent one season in Sacramento and appeared in just 17 games.

There’s more news today out of Miami:

  • Riley also decided not to pursue Mario Chalmers, Jackson writes in the same piece. Chalmers spent seven full seasons with the Heat before being traded to Memphis in November for luxury tax relief. He ruptured his right Achilles tendon in March and was subsequently waived by the Grizzlies. Jackson says the Heat were concerned not only about the injury, but about how Chalmers would respond to reduced playing time as a backup for Goran Dragic.
  • Miami would be taking a major risk by trying to trade for Russell Westbrook this season, contends Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. There has been speculation that the Thunder point guard might be available because of his looming free agency next summer and the loss of Kevin Durant, but Winderman argues that the assets the Heat would have to give up in such a deal would make it less likely Westbrook would re-sign. The writer says Oklahoma City would want Dragic and Justise Winslow, which would create two big holes in Miami’s roster. Winderman doesn’t think Riley would consider that deal unless he was assured that Westbrook would stay in Miami past the 2016/17 season.
  • Briante Weber‘s aggressive defense may make him a valuable part of the rotation next season, according to Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post. Weber, who suffered a serious right knee injury as a senior at Virginia Commonwealth, spent most of this season with Miami’s D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls. The Heat briefly lost Weber in March when the Grizzlies signed him to a 10-day contract, but he returned to the D-League when that expired and joined Miami’s roster just before the playoffs. After playing just one game for the Heat — and seven total — during his rookie season, Weber has been making an impression in Summer League play. “He’s getting better and better at being our floor leader,” said Heat Summer League coach Juwan Howard. “They’re trying to get into him and make him uncomfortable with ball pressure and picking him up full-court, but Bri’s done an excellent job making decisions. At times he’s overly aggressive, but that’s his nature. I trust him.”

Kings Waive Caron Butler, Duje Dukan

The Kings have waived small forward Caron Butler and power forward Duje Dukan, sources told Shams Charania of The Vertical.

That frees up more roster space, though Butler had already exercised his player option worth $1,551,659 for next season. Deleting Dukan from the roster gives them a little more cap room, since Dukan’s $874,636 contract was not guaranteed.

Butler might have trouble finding a new team if he doesn’t retire, though Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical believes the Heat might have some interest. The Kings obviously would have moved his contract if they could have found a taker. The 36-year-old barely saw the floor during the 2015/16 season, playing a total of 176 minutes in 17 games for the Kings. Most of his absences were primarily the result of DNP-CDs.

Dukan signed with the Kings after going undrafted last June. The University of Wisconsin product spent most of the season with the Kings’ D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, before appearing in one April game with Sacramento. Dukan can still play on the Kings’ summer team even though he’s been waived, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee notes.

Caron Butler Exercises Player Option With Kings

Veteran small forward Caron Butler has exercised his player option for the 2016/17 season, locking in his contract with the Kings for one more year, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter). The option is worth $1,551,659.

[RELATED: Offseason Outlook: Sacramento Kings]

As our list of player option decisions for this year shows, Butler is only the second player who has decided to pick up his option rather than testing the free agent market, joining Cavaliers guard Mo Williams. Considering Butler’s option is only worth the minimum salary, it’s a little surprising he would opt in, but perhaps he figured he’s better off taking that guaranteed money rather than trying to find another team willing to sign him for the minimum.

Butler, who initially entered the NBA as the 10th overall pick in the 2002 draft, barely saw the floor during the 2015/16 season, playing a total of 176 minutes in 17 games for the Kings. Although he was briefly nagged by an ankle problem early in the year, his absences from games were primarily the result of DNP-CDs.

Sacramento reportedly tried to find a trade partner during the season to give Butler an opportunity to play more elsewhere, but ultimately kept him on the roster. The team may again attempt to include the 36-year-old in a deal this offseason — moving his minimum salary shouldn’t be too difficult, assuming there are any teams with interest.

With Butler’s minimum contract now on the books for the 2016/17 season, the Kings are carrying nearly $63MM in guaranteed salary, which doesn’t include the cap hold for their first-round pick. The salary cap is projected to increase to about $94MM.

Pacific Notes: Griffin, Scott, Butler, Booker

Blake Griffin apologized profusely as he spoke with reporters Tuesday about what he said was “poor judgment” on his part in an incident with Clippers assistant equipment manager Matias Testi that left Griffin with a broken hand, according to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. Coach/executive Doc Rivers reiterated that he has no intention of trading Griffin, as Woike relays, but Rivers made no secret of the profound effect the situation has had.

“Your actions have consequences, and it doesn’t take long. You can have a bad minute or two minutes, and it changes everything,” Rivers said, as Woike notes. “And it has. This changes a lot of stuff for our team. I think that’s the lesson here.”

It’s still not completely clear when Griffin will return to play, and the Clippers have reportedly had serious talks with the Magic about acquiring fellow big man Channing Frye. See more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Some within the Lakers are thinking about how Byron Scott would perform as coach if he had more talent, while others ponder just how effective his hard-line approach with the team’s young players has been, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, who writes that the team seems torn about whether to keep the coach for next season. The Lakers are committed to him through season’s end, and while he also has a guaranteed salary for next season, too, his job security beyond this spring is in jeopardy, as the Lakers haven’t been reluctant to eat coaching salaries in the recent past, Bresnahan notes.
  • Caron Butler is a prime buyout candidate, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. The Kings reportedly promised to trade him in December, but he’s still with Sacramento.
  • It’s been a forgettable season in Phoenix, but Devin Booker, whom the Suns drafted 13th overall this past June, gives the team reason for optimism, as Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders examines.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Butler, Barnes, Ezeli

Rajon Rondo has earned the complete trust of DeMarcus Cousins, which is no easy task, TNT’s David Aldridge writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Rondo, who’s on a one-year, $9.5MM contract, is “the most unselfish player I’ve ever played with,” Cousins told Aldridge. Rondo said to Aldridge that he signed with the Kings in part to mentor the center, adding that he’s wanted to play with Cousins for the past four or five years. It’s all cast against the backdrop of a Sacramento team that’s just two games out of a playoff spot, and the presence of Caron Butler has had much to do with the team’s improvement, Rondo contends. The Kings reportedly promised to trade Butler last month, but he’s still with the team. See more from the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors assistant GM Kirk Lacob, the son of co-owner Joe Lacob, hinted at the team’s willingness to pay whatever it takes to re-sign Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli in restricted free agency this summer as he spoke in a recent radio appearance on 95.7 FM The Game’s “NBA This Week” show. Host Matt Steinmetz has the transcription“Both those guys are a part of the core,” Lacob said in part. “Hopefully we’ll have this team for a number of years to come. If it costs a lot of money, it’s going to cost a lot of money. It probably will. A lot of our players have come up in free agency the last year or two and if they continue to perform we’re going to continue to pay them. We’re 34-2 [now 35-2], we’re trying to get a second championship here. There’s a lot of room for improvement of course, but there’s a lot of power to continuity.”
  • Numbers suggest that Julius Randle is on track to have a career similar to that of Drew Gooden, a sign that he’s not on the path to stardom the Lakers hoped for him, writes Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com in an Insider-only piece co-authored with Chad Ford. D’Angelo Russell is the only one among the Lakers’ young players who has a strong chance to become an above-average starter, Pelton contends.
  • The Lakers have recalled Tarik Black and Ryan Kelly from the D-League, the team announced (Twitter link). They went down to the D-Fenders together on Friday. Black averaged 11.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in two D-League games this weekend, while Kelly posted averages of 26.0 points and 6.5 boards a night.