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Pat Riley says Caron Butler wanted a role that Heat couldn’t promise

Mar 4, 2014, 7:09 PM EDT

Pat Riley AP

It remains to be seen to a certain extent, but Caron Butler appears to be the one player made available during the NBA’s unofficial buyout season that has a true chance of impacting his new team’s playoff chances.

That team is the Oklahoma City Thunder, who apparently had more to offer in their sales pitch than did the Miami Heat.

Speaking at a charity event on Sunday afternoon, Heat executive Pat Riley explained that he was indeed interested in retaining Butler’s services. He just couldn’t promise an impactful role with the team, based on the depth already in place on the roster.

From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (via Basketball Insiders):

“I think when you look at our roster, and I think in our conversations with them, they wanted a meaningful role, and I don’t blame them,” Riley said. “And we’re pretty deep. When you’ve got James Jones and Udonis Haslem and Rashard Lewis in those positions, they’re waiting, and Mike [Beasley] and Greg [Oden] are getting minutes from [roster spots] nine and 10. They were looking for something else.

“We love Caron. We reached out to him. But he was very definitive with what he wanted and I don’t think it’s something we could have promised.”

Interestingly enough, Thunder GM Sam Presti similarly said that nothing was promised, and especially made it clear that there were no minutes guaranteed during the recruiting process.

It’s worth noting that Butler was a member of the 2011 NBA champion Mavericks, but didn’t play at all in the postseason due to injury. He didn’t need to ride the pine in Miami for another hollow title, and perhaps the theoretical availability of a meaningful bench role with the Thunder will ultimately prove to be the best choice.

  1. miamatt - Mar 4, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    It was pretty clear this was the case even without hearing it from Riley. Butler certainly wasn’t going to supplant Shane Battier in the starting lineup, and the first three men off the bench are entrenched: Ray Allen, Birdman, and Norris Cole.

    While there is precedent for Spoelstra changing his starting lineup -Mike Miller starting from game 4 on in the Finals, for example- that’s hardly a sure thing, and it could just as likely be another player besides Butler who gets the spot starts. As Riley said, Butler would have been there with Haslem and Rashard Lewis- players who could, in any given game or any given series, enter the rotation, but would be more likely out of the lineup than in.

    In any case, I wish Caron luck, he should get minutes on the team I believe will make the Finals out of the West in the end.

    • shadowgamesshades - Mar 4, 2014 at 7:43 PM

      To be honest, I thought he would choose the Heat since he’s friends with Wade and knows the organization. But he made his choice. I hope Lebron destroys the Rockets tonight.

      • miamatt - Mar 4, 2014 at 7:55 PM

        I’ll admit I thought he was a lock to Miami as well. But once he went elsewhere, it was clear why. I can’t blame the guy, he wants to go out playing, and he’ll have a better chance of doing that in OKC.

      • shadowgamesshades - Mar 4, 2014 at 8:00 PM

        If he chose the Heat, he would have the Mike Miller role. He would only get big minutes when Wade or Lebron is sitting. He would get consistent minutes in OKC because KD has no true backup.

      • miamatt - Mar 4, 2014 at 9:03 PM

        At best, he would have been in the Mike Miller role. At best.

      • money2long - Mar 5, 2014 at 2:39 AM

        Lol @ ranking James jones and Rashard Lewis over butler. He should have a better role on that team if he was there

      • docrecon - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:14 AM

        butler has said in the past that he’s watched OKC from other bench for a few years now, and sees in the Thunder’s front office, coach, and players extreme talent, brilliant evaluation of players who would fit their system, and a coach who has 2 of the league’s greatest players & the rest of this young and extremely talented team buying into his philosophy that everything good comes from playing excellent defense…as well as 2 former UConn Alums & others in OKC’s organization who he’s had dealings with in the past……and rightfully concluded (after praying & sleeping on it) that his destiny was in a Thunder uniform. and in return, we in OKC are happy as hell to have him as a member of our family. Looking back, it did come down to Miami & OKC, but I think the Thunder were the front-runners all along; especially when Thabo & Perk both went down for basically the rest of the season. Butler will fit in perfectly in OKC.He’s precisely the type of player Presti & Brooks like, and he wouldn’t find a more welcoming locker room or arena full of fans (as was shown when he entered his 1st game with OKC. He can do it all, will get good minutes, and will most def have a large role in OKC’s season from here on out. Welcome to OKC, Caron….THUNDER UP !!!

  2. sportsfan18 - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    Kudos to Riley for being truthful with him and upfront…

  3. savvybynature - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    Why does it appear he is the only player from the buyout market that can contribute meaningfully? Did he do something awesome for OKC that I missed?
    My money is still on Big Baby Davis having the biggest impact, as the Clips had no depth behind Griffin and Jordan before and Davis is a solid if unspectacular rotation player.

    • docrecon - Mar 6, 2014 at 1:22 AM

      Thabo Sefalosha went down, causing the Thunder to be without one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, and Caron can play 3 positions on offense & defend 4 positions. He’s a veteran, is tough, can lead and follow leadership,is flexible, and will fit right in. As for KD’s backup, OKC has used 5 or 6 different players to back KD up…and OKC’s 2nd unit is not ony the NBA’s best, but very frequently is put into the game as a unit & outplays the other team’s 1st unit. Butler will get varying minutes at many positions, and will help OKC out in every way possible. I don’t know Davis’ game, but have watched Caron play throughout his career…and I believe that Presti & Butler both made the right move.

  4. campcouch - Mar 5, 2014 at 2:11 AM

    You know buy outs happen because the individual has zero trade or player value to the team. They prefer to save a few dollars and let him walk. Why does a bought out player suddenly become awesome? He’s cheap and if he still is worthless,he’s only a short term deal! I guess averaging 11 points on a lousy Bucks team is enough to warrant a “hot item” label but it’s OKC’s money lol.

    • money2long - Mar 5, 2014 at 2:41 AM

      There are those that can see past the bs and analyze a player’s true value

    • 1heatedtoombrayduh - Mar 5, 2014 at 7:23 AM

      so much fallacy in this post lol

    • dled1977 - Mar 6, 2014 at 3:53 AM

      You must be to young, or not enough of a fan to remember Robert Horry. Just like Derrick Fisher with the Mavs.

  5. davidly - Mar 5, 2014 at 4:43 AM

    The Heat got the team they needed and before the season began. Now all comes down health and performance.

    • dynasonic - Mar 5, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      “health and performance” The same can be said for literally every team in every sport.

      • davidly - Mar 5, 2014 at 8:10 PM

        Except that with health and performance on their side, only a very few teams are capable of competing for the big chip.

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