According to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, the Bucks will acquire small forward Caron Butler from the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns have agreed to trade Butler, a Racine, Wis., native, to the Milwaukee Bucks for point guard Ish Smith and center Slava Kravtsov about seven weeks after they acquired Butler and hailed him as a veteran influence for the youthful Suns and part of the future.
While starting 78 games for the Los Angeles Clippers last season, Butler, 33, averaged 10.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game on shooting splits of 42% FG/39% 3-ptFG/83% FT. His per-possession numbers (from Synergy) are good and comparable with Carlos Delfino’s: 0.97 points scored on offense and 0.96 points allowed on defense (compared to 1.00 and 0.95 for Delfino).
The move eats into the Bucks’ cap room, as Milwaukee swapped roughly $2.5 million of unusable contracts ($1.5 million for Kravtsov plus about $950,000 for Smith) for Butler’s expiring $8 million deal. The Bucks have three small forwards on the roster already — Delfino, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Khris Middleton — but Delfino is likely out for the beginning of the season as his foot heals, and Middleton and Antetokounmpo have yet to show that they are prepped for extended minutes.
The Bucks didn’t give up much in terms of personnel. With 16 players under contract, they were likely going to have to cut Kravtsov or Smith anyway to get to the maximum roster size of 15, and the holdover from that duo wasn’t going to sniff the rotation. Essentially, the Bucks are paying an extra $5.5 million to snag a starting caliber small forward.
It’s painful to see the Bucks blow a chunk of their cap room on a ‘win now’ player, but the move won’t keep Milwaukee from swapping with a cap-strapped team at the deadline. If there is a team willing to dump high-priced, but useful talent on the Bucks at the deadline, Butler and his expiring contract can be moved — especially after he’s filled in long enough for Delfino to return. As an added bonus, such an exit would time well an entrance for the youngsters that could further submerge the Bucks into
tank mode a youth movement as the 2014 Draft approaches.