When Caron Butler reached a buyout with the Milwaukee Bucks back in February, a number of teams coveted the veteran forward’s services for the playoff run.
Butler, of course, chose the Oklahoma City Thunder. He opted for the Western Conference powerhouse for a number of reasons, one being the persuasiveness of Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.
Butler is a free agent again and Durant is making his pitch to convince his friend to re-sign with the Thunder. Durant flew from Los Angeles, where he had been working out, to attend Butler’s basketball camp at Park High School in Racine.
“I would love to have him back,” said Durant, the NBA’s reigning MVP. “He can definitely help us. But some things are out of your control; management makes those decisions. But I’d like to have him back.”
Butler, 34, gave the Thunder a strong veteran presence of the bench. He played in 22 regular-season games, averaging 9.7 points and 3.2 rebounds in 27.3 minutes. In the playoffs, Butler appeared in 17 games, averaging 6.5 points and 3.2 boards.
Besides the Thunder, some of the other teams pursuing Butler are the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.
• Durant has had a relatively quiet summer — unlike some of the NBA’s other elite players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Durant still has two years remaining on his contract. James and Anthony are unrestricted free agents. They have dominated the news, which is fine with the unpretentious Durant.
“They deserve all the attention,’’ Durant said. “They deserve to be courted; they deserve the max contracts. I respect those guys so much.’’
• Butler has played in the NBA for 12 seasons. He has played with several superstars i.e. Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant.
When Butler introduced Durant to his campers, he said, “This is the most humble superstar I’ve ever been around.’’
• Durant thinks the Milwaukee Bucks may have hit the jackpot with their selection of Jabari Parker as the No. 2 overall selection in last June’s draft.
Said Durant: “I saw Jabari in high school; he came to my camp in Chicago. He’s going to be a stud.’’
Parker, who signed with the Bucks Wednesday, will make his Bucks’ debut Friday night when Milwaukee takes on Cleveland at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. That game will also feature swingman Andrew Wiggins, whom the Cavs made the No. 1 overall pick.
• In the days leading up to the draft in June, rumors circulated that the Bucks were seriously shopping beleaguered veteran center Larry Sanders.
A report recently surfaced the Bucks had offered Sanders to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a package deal that would have brought veteran center Brook Lopez to Milwaukee. Brooklyn reportedly rejected the offer.
I was told by an NBA official that the Bucks also had discussions with Indiana and were interested in acquiring veteran Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who hasn’t performed up to his lofty contract. Hibbert’s contract calls for him to earn $14.89 million next season. He then has a player-option the following season for $15.51M.
• Former Bucks forward Desmond Mason will be hosting an invitation-only art show at a hotel on the Vegas strip next week. Mason is an abstract expressionist artist and works with oil paint, acrylic paint, watercolors and ceramics.