Caron Butler signed with the Thunder because he wanted to be part of another championship team.
A bigger part.
Butler already has a ring, won three years ago when he was in Dallas. But an injury kept him from playing even a single minute during the Mavs’ playoff run. So, when Milwaukee bought out his contract earlier this season, Butler wanted the chance at another title, but he also wanted more than a roster spot, a seat on the bench and a chair in the team photo.
That’s why he’ll be in Oklahoma City on Thursday night for a showdown with the Spurs, not in Miami on an off day.
“I wanted to play,” Butler said. “I wanted to be effective.
“I wanted to have my fingerprints even more on the success of the team.”
He knew that could happen in Oklahoma City, and darned if he wasn’t right. Butler has been a spark to the second unit, providing both a veteran presence and a deep threat. In the 13 games he’s played with the Thunder, he has shot nearly 40 percent from behind the 3-point line and averaged nearly 10 points a game.
And he isn’t shy about firing from deep. Since arriving in Oklahoma City, he has averaged 5.6 3-points attempts a game, the most in his career.
But even as Butler has been quick on the trigger, he’s shooting it almost as well as he ever has. There’s only been one other time in his career that he has shot as well as he has with the Thunder.
That started as such a magical season. After being traded from a struggling team in Washington the season before, Butler landed in the starting lineup in Dallas. He was shooting well, scoring high and best of all, the Mavs were winning.
Then right after the first of the year, Butler tore the patella tendon in his right knee. Surgery was needed, and his season was over.
The weeks that followed were a struggle for the already hobbled Mavs, who lost six of their next eight games. But in the playoffs, Dallas hit a stride, only losing a total of three games in three series against Western Conference foes, then beating Miami in six games.
Butler looks at that season with mixed emotions.
“It was a blow physically,” he said of the injury, “but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because we got the championship. I was in the locker room. My voice was heard every night, every game, so that was special.”
But still, he’s a player. Players want to play.
There’s got to be some part of that championship that seems hollow. Unfulfilling. Like a sugary soda. It doesn’t satisfy and only leaves you wanting that taste again.