Though Caron Butler was not the offensive assassin they hoped he would be, the Oklahoma City Thunder will miss the leadership and experience of Butler.
In 22 games, Butler averaged 9.7 points on 41 percent shooting, making more than 40 percent of his shots from 3-point range. He provided a spark the Thunder searched for continuously throughout the entire season, although Butler did not completely fill that void. On a team that often struggles to not turn the ball over, Butler took care of the basketball as if it was his own child. He only turned the ball over a total of eight times in his short stint with the Thunder, picking up the slack of Russell Westbrook who can at times be a turnover machine.
Butler’s most significant contribution, however, perhaps came off the court. In his MVP speech, Kevin Durant singled out Butler, noting that during his first week with the team, Butler put a sign up in Durant’s locker that said “KD MVP.” That is something Durant said he will never forget. That kind of bond is nearly irreplaceable. Butler brought bench leadership and confidence that the Thunder struggled to replicate with their bench. Russell Westbrook may, in fact, be the most confident player in the league, but after he and Durant, they struggle to exhibit swagger. Butler brought that swagger with his signature ‘calling long distance’ celebration he performed where he put a finger phone to his ear after every made three point field goal.
He wasn’t their best player, nor the most important. His second unit contributions may not have truly widened many eyes, but those close to the Oklahoma City Thunder organization know that what Caron Butler brought to the team in terms of intangibles were much more important than anything he accomplished on the basketball court. His services will be well utilized by the Detroit Pistons and OKC will miss him very much.