Offseason Wishlist - Run, Caron, run
Playing in just 27 regular-season games with the Dallas Mavericks, Caron Butler completed a crash course in transition basketball. The eight-year veteran learned that in order to be effective in Dallas' run-and-gun offense, he simply has to run. Point guard Jason Kidd will do the rest.
After the seven-player trade that brought Butler to Big D from the Washington Wizards on Feb. 13, the traditional small forward had to make an adjustment to playing at the shooting guard spot. More importantly, Butler had to learn that playing alongside Kidd means running the length of the court and creating fast-break offense.
"We're a running team," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "We have Jason Kidd. We are always better when we don't call plays or don't have to call plays."
Playing with little to no practice time with his new lead guard and teammates, Butler was forced to adjust on the fly upon his arrival in Dallas. But Kidd made the adjustment seemingly seamless, helping Butler along by creating easy scoring opportunities for the swingman in transition. The result was a 13-game winning streak for the Mavs from Feb. 17 to March 10, leading the two-time All-Star to say this:
"We're just playing basketball -- it's like pickup game style. We're just getting the ball to the floor general (Kidd), just getting to spots and he's finding us."
Though Butler's scoring average with the Mavs slipped to 15.2 points per game, after averaging 16.9 points in his 47 games for Washington, he slowly became more comfortable as the playoffs approached.
"My teammates just told me to be myself," Butler explained. "Don't try to do too much, just be myself."
"With a talent like that, you want him being aggressive -- make or miss," Kidd said of Butler's early struggles.
The former Connecticut standout then broke through in the postseason, averaging 19.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.5 steals in the Mavs' first-round series defeat in six games to the San Antonio Spurs. No. 4 says it is just a preview of what he will do nightly next season.
"I hit a nice stride in the playoffs, and I was finding out what was expected of me and what my role was. I look forward to seeing what's going to happen next year," Butler said.
With some level of familiarity with Kidd and his new surroundings, albeit just 33 games worth, Butler now sees the Mavericks competing for a title next season.
"Over here in Dallas, the goal is to win a championship," Butler said. "We're building something, and we're getting adjusted to each other and acquitted with each other on the fly. It's still a work in progress, but we're definitely doing a good job on the fly."
For all of your news on the Dallas Mavericks this offseason, visit Mavs.com. Follow Earl K. Sneed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/EarlKSneed.