It was a calculated risk by the Thunder, one that could have paid huge dividends had Butler excelled in his role. But just because he didn’t when it mattered most doesn’t mean OKC is doomed.
Lamb played more than 1,500 minutes in his second season, gaining valuable experience as he readies himself for what is expected to be a much larger role next season. Jones, meanwhile, showed signs of developing into a versatile weapon who improved his shooting range out to the 3-point line. He also figures to be featured more prominently next season.
As for Butler, it seems unlikely that he’ll return.
He turned 34 in March — although a player’s age hasn’t stopped the Thunder before — and the promise of the Thunder’s younger players might now be too much to again pass over. Whether they’re ready or not, it might be time to throw them into the fire and commit to developing them in games.
That doesn’t bode well for Butler.
The way his season ended also didn’t help.