Oklahoma City Thunder: Was Caron Butler the right choice for OKC, and will he be back?

THUNDER ROUNDTABLE — The Oklahoman’s staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Caron Butler.
by Berry Tramel and Darnell Mayberry and Anthony Slater Published: June 11, 2014

The Oklahoman’s staff writers discuss three topics surrounding Caron Butler.

How did Caron Butler’s performance in a Thunder uniform align with your expectations?

Darnell Mayberry, Thunder beat writer: I was pleasantly surprised at how well he played in the regular season. In the postseason, I couldn’t believe how much he struggled. That’s where I thought the move would pay off most with Butler being such an experienced player.

Anthony Slater, Thunder beat writer: Better than expected in the regular season. Worst than expected in the postseason. And part of it is because he raised the ceiling upon arrival, averaging 9.7 points in 22.7 minutes the final 22 games, shooting a crisp 44 percent from 3-point range. He even had a 5-of-5 and 6-of-6 game from deep. So entering the playoffs, it was expected that would continue. But that scorching clip was far above his career average (34 percent from three) and the pendulum swung the other way, with Butler crashing back to Earth.

Berry Tramel, Columnist: Regular season, very much. Playoffs, not much at all. Butler was a solid offensive producer in the regular season, though defensively he was not as effective as I thought. Then in the playoffs, he didn't play well at all. Went from starting two games against Memphis — there's the answer to a trivia question in a few years; what player ended the Durant-Westbrook-Serge-Perk-Thabo lineup? — to not playing at all in Spurs Game 6. I think Butler was a valuable lesson for us. There's a reason most guys at 34 aren't what they were at 28.

Would the Thunder have been better off passing on Butler and sticking with its young players?

Mayberry: In the short term, yes. In the long term, no. Let me explain. I think Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III could have supplied more in the playoffs with just their athleticism alone. I would have said the same thing before seeing Butler struggle in the postseason, even though I had questions about how prepared both Lamb and Jones were for the playoffs. On the flip side, Butler served as a mentor to a lot of the team’s younger players and even helped out Kevin Durant along the way. Because of that, the Thunder’s young players will be better in the long run for spending a chunk of a season around Butler.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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