After losing out on Tayshaun Prince to Detroit, the Clippers have made their move. According to reports, the Clippers have agreed to sign free agent small forward Caron Butler to a three-year, 24-million dollar deal.
A few quick notes on Caron Butler:
- Butler is 31-years-old and is coming off season-ending knee surgery last year.
- Caron Butler had the lowest assist rate last year among wings with at least a 25% usage rate. (HatTip to @tomhaberstroh)
- Caron Butler is a career 31.9 percent 3-point shooter. He averages less than two attempts per game from behind the arc on his career. For reference, Ryan Gomes shot 34 percent from behind the arc last year.
- Eric Gordon’s career usage percentage: 22.7 percent. Caron Butler’s career usage percentage: also 22.7 percent. Over their careers, Butler and Gordon have used the exact same percentage of available possessions. Butler’s usage rate last year was 25.1, 7th among NBA small forwards. He gets a lot of shots up.
- Only two small forwards attempted more 16-23 foot jumpers last year in the NBA: Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. The good news is, Butler shot 45 percent from there. Can he carry it on to next year? It’s tough to tell. He shot right around 45 percent in the 09-10 season, but only hit 38 percent in 08-09. Butler has consistently ranked around the top 5 of all NBA players for attempts from 16-23 feet. The mid-to-deep range jumper is his bread and butter…but it’s also the least efficient place to score from on the court.
- At a contract worth 8-million dollars per year, the Clippers now have 32.4 million committed to 6 players in 2013 — and that’s not including DeAndre Jordan or Eric Gordon’s contract extensions. (HatTip to @ZachLowe_SI)
Here’s my biggest concern with the signing. As currently constructed, the Clippers will be depending on Eric Gordon (who has missed 46 games in the last two years), Chris Kaman (who has missed 107 games in the last year 3 years) and Caron Butler (coming off knee surgery and has never played a full season in his career) to stay healthy for a playoff run. That’s not just playing with fire — that’s more like lighting yourself on fire. The Clippers probably aren’t done yet, but as the roster currently stands, it’s one of the more injury-prone ones of recent memory.
Here’s a question: Instead of competing against Chicago and a few other teams for his services, why not wait to see what it would have taken to get Richard Jefferson on a 3-year deal with an amnesty bid? He’s a much better 3-point shooter and likely a better fit for Del Negro’s offense. Over their careers, Jefferson and Butler have put up similar raw numbers, except Jefferson has only missed two games in the last four years. Wouldn’t you be more comfortable making a long-term commitment to him? And is there any chance, with limited bidders, that Jefferson goes for 8-million a year?
That all seems null and void at this point, as the Clippers are ready to move forward with Caron Butler as their starting small forward.