A note of caution regarding Da’Sean Butler
There was a tidbit in Jeff McDonald’s story from a couple days ago about the 2011 NBA Lockout’s first casualty, the Las Vegas Summer League. McDonald was listing players on the Spurs’ roster who could’ve used the cancelled summer league to improve their standing in the organization.
[Da’Sean] Butler, meanwhile, is the wildest of wild cards, having not played in an organized game since blowing out his knee in the 2010 Final Four. In short, he’s the kind of guy for whom the Vegas stage was built.
As savvy and low-risk as it was for the Spurs to sign Butler near the end of last season, McDonald’s point is an important one. Da’Sean Butler hasn’t played in a while. A long while.
We often look at every move San Antonio makes through rose-colored glasses. With how many of them have worked out, who can blame us? With Butler, though, we can’t get ahead of ourselves. Counting on Butler to fill any hole in the rotation or offer anything more than comparable production to what Danny Green did last year is asking too much.
If the seasons somehow starts on time in October, it will have been over a year and a half since Butler played in a competitive game. If the schedule begins in January, it will be almost two years. Butler wasn’t near healthy enough to play in last year’s summer league and didn’t appear in a single game last season, D-League or otherwise.
Expecting Butler to solidify the rotation in anyway is asking for the moon. It’s likely that he’ll split much of the season between Austin and San Antonio, assuming the league and the players get this labor situation sorted out.
In a way, this reminds me of how we treat the situation when teams fight to sign recently bought out players after the trade deadline. This past season, the contenders clamored to sign guys like Troy Murphy and Corey Brewer, thinking their contributions would put them over the top. I was disappointed when Brewer signed with the Dallas Mavericks. Brewer and Murphy combined for a total of 26 minutes in the playoffs in seven appearances.
Da’Sean Butler suffered a terrible knee injury in April of 2010. He tore the ACL in his left knee and sprained the MCL. For a player who was considered in college to be a “below average athlete” for his position, losing some of what explosiveness he had to an ACL injury does not forecast well for his long term prospects. While by all accounts he has the work ethic to carve out a long career in the NBA, expecting him to own a place in Gregg Popovich’s rotation in year one is a long shot.
Throw in the fact that there’s no summer league this year and a great chance for both a shortened training camp and preseason, all signs point to the Spurs looking elsewhere for depth help.