Caron Butler trade reportedly in works between Suns, Bucks


Caron Butler’s only contribution to the Phoenix Suns very well could have come in a summer fashion show.

Two weeks after donning the new Suns uniforms during their debut at Scottsdale Fashion Square, the forward acquired with Eric Bledsoe in the deal that sent Jared Dudley to the Los Angeles Clippers could be on his way to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Racine Journal Times’ Gery Woelfel first reported that Butler was the key part of a trade discussion between Phoenix and Milwaukee that is currently ongoing. ESPN’s Marc Stein confirmed the report and then added Butler has been told he is on the move for the second time this summer.

It’s unclear what the Suns would receive, but from their previous offseason moves it’s a good guess that picks, cash, young assets or a combination of the three could be involved.

Update: Paul Coro reports Slava Kravtsov and Ish Smith, but not a pick will come Phoenix’s way.

Because of the Bucks’ cap situation, they don’t have to give up a whole lot to obtain Butler. Benchwarmers like Ish Smith or Slava Kravtsov could come back to Phoenix. In such a case, the Suns would simply save a huge chunk of Butler’s salary while opening up playing time for younger players. But as general manager Ryan McDonough has showed already, it’s about getting a little something extra, be it a late pick or otherwise.

As for the Bucks, such an acquisition seems like another odd move for a team not playing the tanking game or the winning one. Milwaukee has refused to rework itself completely and made more than questionable offseason dealings. One of them, signing swingman Carlos Delfino, won’t be a known result for longer — Defino is recovering from a foot fracture, and an addition of Butler at least covers that absence. And it doesn’t hurt that Butler is a Racine, Wisc., native.

The good news in Phoenix because of it: Before the Bucks extended big man Larry Sanders, their biggest move of the summer was bringing on O.J. Mayo, and if the Suns receive a first-round draft pick in the next few years, it’s not unreasonable to assume it’ll turn into a top-15 pick.

Butler’s contract, the largest on the roster at $8 million next season, runs out after this season. If he remained a Sun, Butler was arguably going to play Jermaine O’Neal of last season as the veteran leader of a rebuilding team. In a story published last week, Butler even told NBA.com’s Jeff Caplan he was ready to take that role.

Butler was specifically open about mentoring the troubled Michael Beasley, using “would” rather than “will” seemingly because of Beasley’s touchy status on the team.

“I would stay in his ear, I would definitely stay in his ear,” Butler said. “I would continue to motivate him and I would challenge him night-in and night-out, in practice, just whatever I can do to make him better I would do as a human being, and obviously as a basketball player because I think he has tremendous upside still. He’s just 24 years old.”

Now, it appears as if Butler will be on the way out first.

After Butler told NBA.com he wasn’t told of his trade from Los Angeles to Phoenix, he at least went out of his way to tweet a thanks to the Suns organization.


  • foreveris2long

    Since Butler was clearly the best small forward on the team, his projected departure will cement the Suns top 3 status in 2014 Wiggins/Randle sweepstakes.

  • Azbballfan

    If we do get Kratsov and ismael smith, they will probably cut smith and keep Kratsov if we ever end up moving Gortat

    I have been watching some Kratsov highlights seems like a pretty good fit for us

    his per 36 numbers last year were 13.5 points 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks a game

    really athletic, will bang down low and push people around

    if we dont get a small forward in the trade, does that mean that Marcus Morris is the starter?

  • dave:f32

    Wow, but not surprised… Tank Season is in fool effect! Frown now, smile later (hopefully). I dont like how the Suns put Caron out there to model the new unis, all the while knowing they were looking to deal him. Shaeisty.

    Do not be surprised that quality veteran FA will not want to come here voluntarily. A dynamic contrast to the Colangelo Regime.

    Houston has become the safe haven Phoenix Suns used to be.

    Btw, the new Phx Suns uniforms are unpleasantly boring, dull and not creative. Look as if someone had a deadline to meet, and didnt care for the final product.

  • dave:f32

    Slava and Ekpe would be some good defensive pickups. They seem limited on offense but theyre young and have potential to develop into decent offensive weapons. Stayin positive ;)

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Just what we need….another big, white stiff & a 5th string point guard.
    Is there a draft pick in all this ?

    Hey McDonough, be careful….we will only take being lied to for so long.

  • Daniel

    Seems smart financially and puts us in better draft position. Butler’s departure means more losses and trade exception can lead to more flexibility for a future superstar trade. Maybe thats what he’s going for or maybe I’m wrong. What do I know? lol

  • foreveris2long

    It sure looks like they are trying to free up more money to sign Bledsoe in addition to securing that top 3 lottery pick. Otherwise this moves makes little sense absent a draft pick coming to the Suns. However I say this knowing I do not recall ever seeing these guys play so what do I know?

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Maybe this a precursor to a Gortat deal or as Forever has astutely noted, freeing up $$$ for Bledsoe.

    In related news, the Suns signed Sheriff Joe as Beasley’s new mentor.
    “Two weeks of pink underwear, green bologna & push-ups in 105 degree tent city heat & Beasley will be ready to play” said the portly Sheriff.

  • Scott

    Even though trade talks had been going on between the Suns and Bucks for a month over Butler, I don’t think it was wrong of the Suns to have Butler model the unis. A deal is not done till it’s done, and the Suns were probably looking to keep Butler, thinking it would be much better to have him as a team captain than to let him go for two players likely to be waived (Smith and Kravtsov).

    However, it could be that the Suns now have a reason to clear cap space, and maybe that’s what pushed the deal to get done.

    As for veterans hating Phoenix, I think it’s quite the opposite. Butler tweeted praise for the Suns, and I think he’s happy that the Suns decided to send him home to Wisconsin. Likewise, I think Dudley is happy with where the Suns sent him (to a contending team close to his home), and Scola went to another team that is contending.

    Just last summer the Suns sent Nash to the Lakers, because he wanted to be near his kids.

    So the Suns have done fairly well in treating their players right, even despite the handicap of having Blanks as GM for a couple years.

  • Scott

    BTW, I’m with Azbballfan in hoping that Kravtsov could turn out to be a surprise keeper in this deal. If he accepts coaching and has a decent IQ, he could be a good player.

  • dave:f32

    @Spindoctor We can agree to disagree. Fact is that within League circles Phx Suns organization as a whole carries negative baggage for its Executive Branch shortcomings over recent past. Can they attract big name FA on the upside of their careers? Damage control takes time and it remains to be seen if they have fixed the problems or if they will continue to be a detriment to their own success.

    When has a championship team ever been comprised of players all at the same age? They need young players, but so far, they dont have a team. Team is more than the sum of its parts. They are still stuck on the Dream Phase…

  • dave:f32

    To all NBA vets, come to Phx so we can trade you to a team near your hometown!

    Just doesnt work, when paraphrased. Phx Suns have the Scarlet Letter, im saddened to say. I dont think that perception changes until a change of ownership occurs.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    I’ll probably write more on this later, but I essentially feel Butler wasn’t a part of the future so he was essentially a $5 mil expiring contract. Now the Suns have an additional $5.65 mil to play with without needing a team to take on Butler’s deal. They can now take on more salary in a Gortat deal or perhaps get a pick if a team needs to move a deal to get under the tax line later on. This deal in itself doesn’t do much, but it gives McD more ammo to do something productive.

  • Michael

    The deal is ok for me if it involves any first rounder. Be it 2014 or any later draft class. Simply freeing up cap space is not much of a return for a serviceable player like Butler.

  • Red

    Oh dear. I hope Crafty will turn out OK or this will be the worst W/L season in franchise history.

    Ah well, TANK TANK TANK!

  • dave:f32

    Another fact: Butler, Dudley, Scola, Hill and Nash all wanted to stay in Phx, and all were traded despite their professionalism and time-in-service/contributions… A problem these days is loyalty, or lack thereof, for money. Nash, of all players, should have retired a Sun!

  • Zack B.

    While it’s clearly a cap move, we got some young talent in return as we’ve done with previous trades. I would get rid of Marshall, Garrett, and have Smith as our primary backup. He’s quick, athletic, and a great passer, I don’t see why not keep him. Slava is also decent, but I only see him sticking around if Gortat is traded. This was an inevitable move, and I was annoyed that we acquired Butler in the first place. The only question is could we have gotten more in return? Yes. We should of threw in Marshall and just did straight up Caron and Marshall for Giannis A. That dude has tons of potential. I have mixed feelings about the trade, but I’m still waiting on what we’ll do with Beasley, and Frye’s medical status.

  • Michael Beasley

    I aint goin nowhere son! Actually I take that back, I’ll be on cloud 9 after I smoke this bleezy. Grade A bleezy, for B-Easy, fa sheezy!

  • Azbballfan

    This is either a precursor to the retirement of Frye, the cutting the Beasley, and the trading of Gortat………or the Suns just want extra cap space to get a player via the amnesty process

    so………who starts at the 3?

    no dudley, no butler……we have gerald green, marcus morris and PJ Tucker

    i almost forgot about tucker

    ironically i made a post just the other day about how we need to make another deal and low and behold here it is

    the Suns now have Gorat, Len and Krav and Plumlee to man the 5 spot

    and we have about 10 point guards

    Dragic, Bledsoe, Smith, Marshall, Garettt and Malcolm Lee

    i have never heard of a team having 6 point guards on a team in the regular season

    clearly there is another deal in the works

    i would have loved Epke Udoh, but i like Krav to, could be a good player for us

  • KeZ

    @dave:f32

    Why have veterans with a big paycheck when we are in reubilding mode?

  • Ty-Sun

    The article on the ESPN site says, “Sources, however, say McDonough has consented to allow Butler to realize a lifelong dream of playing for Milwaukee with the trade.” So this was something that Butler wanted and McD is finding a way to make it happen.

    If the Suns can even bring back a 2nd round pick while shedding some salary it would be a good deal. Plus it opens up playing time for younger players this season.

  • john

    @dave:f32

    Bashing the front office and then suggesting that the Suns keep $30M-$40M in dead weight veteran contracts isn’t going to help you win anyone over. If you’re going to pretend you could run a professional sports franchise better than the Suns have been run, please come up with something better than loyalty.

    Phoenix can’t (and has never been able to) attract the LeBrons of the world. You’re right about that. But I think the Suns are more than capable of wooing the Dirks of the world to come to the bright side. Money speaks a heck of a lot louder than good will in the NBA.

  • dave:f32

    My son is 15 yrs old, has a wicked 1s t step and crossover, and he`d demand way less than Bledsoe… The Suns should at least consider it.

    Rebuild shouldnt go the 10 yr plan. Suns will be relevant in 2025.

  • http://ultimatesimbaseball.com Brenton

    Phoenix certainly has a history of attracting marquee free agents, just not in the Robert Sarver era. Nash, Hardaway, Chambers, etc, etc, etc… Maybe not every free agent, but Phx has been long known as a quality organization in the league. That rep took a hit in the Sarver/Babby/Blanks regime, but hopefully it wasnt too bad of a hit.

    As for the trade, this is clearly another set-up move. Like playing chess, it may not make sense now, but there are clear implications down the road. Gortat and Marshall should be looking for a real estate agent and packing their bags.

    Good news is Gortat looks healthy, so the Suns should have an easier time trading him.

  • Sunsn7

    Buh bye Butler & Beasley

    HELLO Andrew Wiggins!

  • DBreezy

    Looks like the move frees up cap space for possible future moves and opens things up a bit for Goodwin playing time wise as Tucker can now play more mins at the 3 instead of the 2. They also get some more depth up front to cover for a potential Gortat move and what looks like at least another lost season for Frye if not more.

  • john

    Nash was hardly a marquee free agent when he made his way to Phoenix for the second time. He had what, two ASGs under his belt? Zero convincing playoff performances? Zero assist titles? Zero FT titles? Steve Nash was a good PG. No one in their wildest dreams would have predicted Steve Nash would become a two-time MVP and be the best PG in the league for 3 or 4 years (and it shows by how little he was paid relative to his peers).

    I like TC, but I wasn’t talking about being able to attract #2 guys. I was talking about being able to attract legit superstars in this league, and the Suns have never been able to do that outside of the Charles Barkley trade.

    Hardaway was damaged goods.

    There are no et ceteras.

    The Suns have never been able to attract the top flight free agents. Never. And most teams are in that same boat. Unless you’re on a coast, you’re not getting those guys in free agency. It’s just not going to happen. The only top flight guy the Suns have ever acquired outside of the draft is Barkley. Zero in free agency, by my count. That’s a “history?”

  • Voqar

    Another good move. Butler is not that good…although that might’ve been good for tanking. They can surely put someone more inept on the floor.

  • DBreezy

    @Foreveris,

    From the other thread, my comments on mileage for Dragic and Gortat stand but you know those were two different situations for Suns management. Robin came into the 2010-2011 season with big expectations after the WCF run and didn’t live up to them. I know he was coming off the back injury and wasn’t physically himself, but as I said at the time the more troubling aspect was that he didn’t seem there mentally. The latter is the type of stuff that makes organizations turn on players and with a brand new regime in that season that is exactly what happened. The Suns acquired Gortat who did well for them and Robin only remained in the mix because Gentry was still kind enough to start him despite Marcin thoroughly outplaying him that season.

    He didn’t want to lose Robin completely IMO, but it didn’t matter because the decision makers upstairs had already lost faith in him. This was followed up with the ‘miscommunication/scheduling conflict’ that allowed Garret Siler and Marcin to work with Dream paid for by the Suns with Robin left out. Also, Gambo and Coro both reported that the Suns were going to try to move R.Lo in the draft with Gambo going as far as saying they shopped him to anyone for a first with no takers.

    Whether you agree with their reasoning or not, R.Lo was done in PHX by the end of the 2010-2011 season the only question was how it was going to go down. No extension was coming that fall and he was unlikely to be retained via RFA. It was similar to other departures in the Sarver era like Marion and Stat who were both dead men walking even on teams that performed much better on the court than the 2010-2011 Suns.

    To me it was clear they were done with R.Lo so I just wanted to get something for him. I didn’t mind Gortat staying instead as I thought he was pretty solid in 2010-2011, had low mileage, and decent bigs usually do stay around for awhile. It’s not like the guy had any injury history prior to this Lisfranc sprain.

    At the time many felt that the 2010-2011 season was Marcin’s ceiling with Robin able to go higher, but it turned out that 2011-2012 was his likely ceiling. Last season was a disaster for him and the combination of yet another regime change, a poorer attitude, and big $$$ wants in free agency, Marcin finds himself in the same situation as R.Lo.

    When I made my comments it wasn’t in the vein of being able to trade Marcin later, but the biggest issues with moving him aren’t his age. It’s partly his injury and the inability to extend him because his current salary is so far below what he could likely command on the open market in free agency. Certainty has taken on greater importance under the new cba and Marcin is an uncertain commodity because you can’t lock him up before next summer. The types of teams likely to be most interested in him don’t want a Dwight Howard situation. I suspect most of the offers are terrible.

    From an organizational standpoint there is nothing at this point to suggest that the team has a similar conflict internally over Goran and Bledsoe. We’ll see how that develops, but if it develops in Goran’s favor instead of Bledsoe’s I won’t be upset about it because of Goran’s age. I think they clearly hope it’s the other way around and that Bledsoe is an absolute star, but that’s far from sure at this point.

  • DBreezy

    It’s still early and I really don’t care if they win many games this season, but any guesses to how bad their 3point shooting will be? Also how many turnovers they will have playing fast with a young squad vs defenses that will be packed in? Len should feel right at home though. If EJ and even Albert keep their honesty this season, there should be some good comedy.

  • Mel.

    On the upside, I just bought courtside tickets for our preseason game against the Clippers for less than a hundred bucks a pop through a reseller.

    Nothing to adjust the attitudes of the scalpers like an all-out scramble towards the last train out to Tanktown.

  • Foreveris2long

    DBreezy, I knew your sentiment but I could not resist the age analysis with Gortat and Lopez and Goran and Bledsoe. It is just funny that the Suns get a 1st rounder for Lopez and they may not get anything for Gortat. I definitely feel the Suns are banking or at least hoping Bledsoe is the future star point guard, the key is how much money will they be willing to put in Bledsoe’s bank in October in an effort to lock him up.

    This is going to be a fun season no matter what because expectations should not be high. I thought 20- 25 wins with Butler. This number is going south without him.

  • Foreveris2long

    Funny stuff Mel. When I use to live in Phoenix and even now when I return for a golf trip, I hang out near Marjle’s and buy tickets from the scalpers. They should be discounted pretty good this year.

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    I think the smart play on Bledsoe is let RFA do its intended job unless Bledsoe is willing to sign early for a reasonable amount. This isn’t a Harden situation where he’s clearly proven he’s worth the $$$ so wait and see what you’ve got and if you are a good fit for each other. Bledsoe’s a quiet guy who just lost his best friend on the team, who knows if he even really wants to be here long term at this point?

    Yes the win total is going south as the Suns are clearly the worst team in the West at this point. In fact with the East really only being strong 1-5 vs the West arguably being strong 1-10, you have to wonder if this minor trade is going to up the level of tankage across the league? You play your own conference more than the other which statically should add a few more W’s to teams like PHL and BOS while adding a few more L’s to teams like the Suns. They all the rookie coach factor so that’s a wash. Does McD’s mentor Ainge finally decide its time to move Rondo who could single handedly pass the Celts out of Wiggins contention?

    On a related note, I wonder who the Suns’ Captain(s) will be?

  • Mel.

    Exactly, F2L: I haven’t lived in PHX since 2010, so you know exactly what sort of prices fans were looking at for getting anywhere near “Gold Circle” at that time. I think the opening bids for courtside that season–even preseason–were still at around $1,400, which left me and the wife waaaay up in mid-lodge.

    I’ve wanted to park my heels on the midcourt since 1993, so this is an awesomely bittersweet moment: with my luck, CP3 and Griffin will take one look at who the Suns are putting out for the starting five, and decide that they want to chill at Majerle’s instead of playing, too.

  • Ty-Sun

    There’s a lot of speculation out there that this trade was done to open up some cap space so that the Suns could just waive Beasley without using the stretch provision and still have some short term cap space. Almost everyone here would agree that Beasley is useless as a trade chip – especially after the last drug charge – and ESPN has an insider article asking if Beasley’s NBA career is over. Other articles are questioning whether any team would pick him up even on a minimum contract because of all the baggage he would bring with him.

  • Scott

    After reading that the Suns now have the only two Ukrainian players in the NBA, it occurred to me that if the two mobile, athletic big men ever played together – Kravtsov at PF and Len at C – they could be called the “Ukraine Train.”

    And … that’s about all I’ve got on it. Enjoy! :)

  • KDW

    John,

    You’re leaving out one important piece of Suns history — a 1996 trade for a young stud coming off of an All-Star appearance as a second-year player, who would go on to multiple All-Star appearances with the Suns and lead the league in assists multiple times.

    So if you say that Barkley is the only superstar to come to Phoenix, I have to respond, you must be Kidd-ing me.

    But on the general point, yes. The Suns don’t have a particularly great track record of trading for stars or attracting them as free agents. And while cap space is nice, we don’t have a great history with that, either. See, e.g., Childress, Warrick . . .

  • Suns Fan in PDX

    fwiw to the above commenter, I believe Sarver owned the team when Nash came back as a free agent. Top tier free agents want to win. No Lebrons are signing with teh Suns now, but in a couple few years when we have a talented core? Who knows… (Most of the top tier FAs usually love to golf too.) I think McD is doing a great job, and even if a deal doesn’t immediately make sense, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and be patient because hey, at least he seems to have a legitimate plan, something we haven’t seen in a while… Anyway, I never thought for a second Caron would play a game in phx, and judging from the tweet he sent I believe he did ask to be sent home to the Bucks…

  • john

    @kdw – right on. Can’t believe I forgot about Kidd.