The Washington Wizards have begun pursuing free agent forward Caron Butler, according to Michael Lee of the Washington Post.
The Wizards have quietly worked behind the scenes and reached out to several potential replacements, including the last small forward to reach all-star status with the franchise: Caron Butler. A person close to Butler confirmed Thursday that Washington expressed interest in the veteran swingman.
Lee’s report suggests that Butler is simply a back-up plan if the team can not re-sign forward Trevor Ariza. It’s expected that Wizards will be able to convince Ariza, who averaged 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds last season, to return.
However, if it turns out they can’t, Butler remains a solid option. He might be nearing the end at age 34, but he was still a helpful piece for the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, following his mid-season buyout with the Milwaukee Bucks. Playing alongside Kevin Durant and Co. for 22 games, Butler averaged 9.7 points (40.9 percent shooting from the field and 44.1 percent shooting from three), 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists per contest.
A roadblock in the Wizards’ pursuit of Butler is that he is receiving interest from a few of the premier teams in the NBA.
Butler has also been contacted by the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, the four-time reigning Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers, the person said. Like many perimeter players on the market – including Ariza – Butler is waiting to see where LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony winds up before figuring out where he fits in.
Washington would likely have to give Butler the most money to bring him aboard. Hopefully for the Wizards, they can simply re-sign Ariza and not have to make possibly overpaying Butler a priority.