Various reporters, including ESPN’s Marc Stein, Caron Butler’s personal beat writer Gery Woelfel and NBA.com’s David Aldridge reported on Tuesday that the Milwaukee Bucks were nearing a buyout with Butler.
Bucks, Caron Butler near buyout, per source. Many around league think Heat likely destination. Spurs, Thunder also exploring.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 26, 2014
Bucks and Raymond Brothers, agent for Caron Butler, in discussions to buy out Butler’s contract.
— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) February 25, 2014
There had been scuttlewhispers since before the trade deadline that Butler and the Bucks would come to an agreement if he wasn’t going to have much of a role down the stretch for a Milwaukee team far removed from the playoff picture and heavily focused on developing younger players.
Surely this is not how Butler envisioned his time in Milwaukee coming to an end, but it’s safe to say he never envisioned this season becoming what it has become.
A timeline of his Bucks career.
September 6 - He was announced as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. His introductory press conference was at his old high school and he received a roaring ovation as he took the stage. He sat next to John Hammond, as the general manager talked about him as a mentor and leader, but insisted he was in Milwaukee to play basketball, not watch it. He was projected to be the team’s starting small forward as they again tried to make a playoff push.
Butler spoke after Hammond and emotions soon got the best of him. His eyes were wet with tears as he spoke and his voice quivered a bit, but he held it together. After Larry Drew heaped more praise on him, he discussed his emotions.
“I’m a little emotional, definitely, I always am …,” he said. “This is a dream come true. This is something I always dreamed about and, you k now, thought about …. and I never thought it would happen.”
November 13 - Butler injured his shoulder in a loss to the Magic that left the Bucks 2-5. He would miss two games.
November 22 - Butler scores what would be his highest point total as a Bucks player, dropping in 38 points in Philadelphia in a 115-107 overtime loss for the Bucks. He said after the game he thought the game was in the team’s control, but that they had not developed a winning brand of basketball yet.
November 25 - After a 24 point loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, Larry Drew issues an apology to the city of Milwaukee for the now 2-10 team’s effort. He promises changes before Milwaukee’s next game and Butler is removed from the starting lineup before the team plays in Detroit two days later. The Bucks proceed to lose by 19 points.
People made lots of jokes at the team’s expense that night.
November 30 - The Bucks announced Butler had injured his left knee and was expected to miss a week. He would return three weeks later, on December 21.
Coach Drew expects Caron Butler to be out a week with a knee injury. #MILvBOS
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 1, 2013
December 27 - After starting his first two games back from injury, Butler returns to the bench. Over Milwaukee’s next nine games, he plays over 20 minutes twice.
January 16 - Butler expresses some dissatisfaction with his role to reporters.
“The information I received before coming here is that ‘You’re going to play a lot,'” Butler said. “And I want to play. I want to be out there to help the situation.
January 22 - After playing just over five minutes against the Houston Rockets and not playing against the San Antonio Spurs, Butler played 32 minutes on his bobblehead night in Milwaukee and poured in 30 points against the Pistons in a rare Bucks win. Gery Woelfel reported after the game that Butler went over to Bucks owner Herb Kohl after the game and told him he wanted to stay.
“I had a moment with Sen. Kohl after the game because I really wanted to talk to him and express to him how excited I am to be here,” Butler said later. “I want to be here in Milwaukee and I want to be part of the process.
“This is home to me. I want to help these guys develop.”
February 3 – Butler sprained his ankle coming down on a jump shot in Milwaukee’s win over the New York Knicks. He would miss two weeks and start to hear his name bandied about in trade rumors as the deadline approached.
February 20 – Butler was not traded, but many assumed he would be bought out before March 1 so he could join a playoff roster.
February 22 – Bad jokes were made.
February 26 – Reports now indicate he will be bought out, putting his bummer of a Bucks career out of its misery.
He had a couple of really good nights, and I mean that literally. He’ll always have the night in Philly and his bobblehead night in Milwaukee. The thrill that he must have felt helping to carry that team to a win, with plenty of friends and family in attendance I’m sure, was something that most of us could only aspire to feel. He was beaming in the locker room after the game, more excited than ever to talk with the media, which is saying something, because he’s a pretty affable guy after games.
Butler did genuinely seem to enjoy his big brother role with Milwaukee’s rookies. He politely chided Giannis Antetokounmpo after games and poked fun when media members crowded around the 19-year-old. He commented before the season about having a daughter Giannis’s age. After that Knicks game where he hurt his ankle, Giannis was met with a swarm of media asking him about his family, who had attended their first NBA game in Milwaukee that night, and as Butler passed the huddle, he spoke in a mock Giannis voice: “Caron told me to beeeeelieeeeve in myself, so I did.”
He was joking, but it’s not hard to imagine Butler frequently passing along encouragement and advice to his rookie. I’m sure he enjoyed that part of his Bucks experience.
But Butler is not anyone’s grandfather. He didn’t have a rocking chair reserved in Milwaukee’s locker room. He wanted to play and he wanted to contribute. I’m sure 20 minutes a night on a contender is a role he’ll be comfortable with, but 20 minutes a night on the league’s worst team? That’s a bitter pill for a veteran to swallow, even a guy playing in his hometown.
Ultimately, that pill was not one Butler was willing to take. So he’ll move one from his dream, which ended up far more like most realities than he or the Bucks were hoping.