Everyone knew Sam Presti was going to make something out of the Ryan Gomes trade.
As baffling as it may have seemed when the Oklahoma City Thunder traded their veteran bench presence for nothing but cap space, smarter heads agreed that Presti would mastermind some sort of trade or signing to provide the Thunder with a play maker off of the bench.
It seems that they have made that move. After having his $8 million contract bought out by the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, veteran forward Caron Butler looks like he will be signing with the Thunder. The 33-year-old Butler has spent time during his career with the Heat, Lakers, Wizards, Mavericks, Clippers and Bucks, and signed with the Thunder instead of the Heat.
The most important thing for Butler will be getting onto the court, where injuries so far this season have limited him to just 34 appearances. If he can get healthy and find some of his youthful shooting, he can be a great threat off of the bench for the Thunder.
The Miami Heat were considered the frontrunner for Butler’s services, but the allure of playing with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, along with potentially more playing time, must have swayed him to join the Western Conference leaders. Butler indicated that he considers the Thunder his best chance at winning a championship, which also says something about how legitimate of a threat the Indiana Pacers are to the Heat threepeat.
If Butler can find his old touch, a Thunder lineup of Westbrook, Jeremy Lamb, Butler, Durant and Ibaka can be possible one of the most offensively efficient teams that they have put on the floor all season.
Also important to Thunder fans is that Butler’s decision means that Miami has missed out on signing both of the big names that were bought out this week, as Danny Granger has decided to sign with the Clippers. This will be irrelevant, however, if Oklahoma City cannot stop their current three game losing streak, all of which have come at home and without injured center Kendrick Perkins. The Thunder have maintained a 1.5 game lead over the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference standings and a three game lead over the Portland Trail Blazers in the Northwest Division despite their skid.
Butler is expected to sign on Saturday and join the team for their game against the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday. With this signing, they will have reached the maximum number of contracts on the roster.
However, I would like to throw this last plea out to Sam Presit: Jimmer Fredette. The Thunder have struggled mightily from deep this year, even with the emergence of Jeremy Lamb and Durant’s all-around dominance. I would love to see the Thunder cut some dead weight (I’m looking at you, Hasheem Thabeet) and sign Fredette to provide a deep threat off of the bench. I realize that he is expected to sign with the Bulls, but come on. Shouldn’t the idea of playing for a title competitor sway him? He wouldn’t have to play a ton, but if Jimmer is on the court, it prevents teams from doubling Durant as much, as he could just kick it out to an open Fredette for three. I realize the guard position is very crowded for the Thunder with Westbrook’s return, Reggie Jackson’s emergence and the surprisingly good play of Derek Fisher, but Scott Brooks could certainly find some minutes for him, just as he will find minutes for Caron Butler.
Because if there is one thing that Scott Brooks has taught us, it’s that he knows how to creatively distribute minutes.
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