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Caron Butler still working toward a comeback this season

Mar 19, 2011, 6:10 PM EDT

Caron Butler

A ruptured patellar tendon is a particularly troublesome injury for anyone who makes a living with their legs, but Caron Butler apparently isn’t all that impressed with the injury’s potential. After initially being ruled out for the remainder of this season, Butler has been rehabbing relentlessly in an effort to rejoin the Mavs at some point later in the season. What initially began as a pipe dream is becoming a real possibility. Here’s the latest update on Butler’s status, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Mavericks forward Caron Butler was projected to miss the rest of the season after rupturing his right patellar tendon on Jan. 1, but Butler now says doctors have told him he “has a shot” at returning in the playoffs. “Trust me, I’m busting my ass to get out there,” Butler told Yahoo! Sports. “I’m not on vacation right now. I’m working hard to get out there.”

Butler’s comeback attempt isn’t exactly breaking news, but the fact that team doctors haven’t deemed his efforts futile is significant. A potential return likely wouldn’t come until the playoffs are already in progress — a scenario which presents its own set of problems — but it says a lot about Butler and his relationship with his Maverick teammates that he’s working so relentlessly when a return to the court is anything but certain. In his short time in Dallas, Butler has become a fully integrated part of the Mavericks organization, so much so that it’s actually hard to see Dallas letting him walk in the off-season.

His rehab would seem to confirm that notion; while Butler’s improved health would certainly help him independently as an unrestricted free agent, his claims to want to get back on the court to help his teammates don’t seem like mere lip service. Butler generally understands how to work the media game, but his commitment to returning to the court, rapport with his teammates, and clear value to the Mavs give his claims a certain sincerity. It remains to be seen whether Butler will actually be able to play this season (and even then, whether he’ll be able to help), but his rehabbing efforts alone speaks to his relationship with his current team.

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