Player Review 2014: Rasual Butler
Years Pro: 11
Status: Free agent
Key Stats: Averaged 2.7 points in 50 appearances. Shot 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from the three-point line.
Rasual Butler was one of the NBA's best stories last season. Just for being in it.
How many other 10-year veterans do you know of who get bounced out of the league, play in the D-League for part of a season, then work their way back to the NBA for an 11th season via Summer League and training camp? And then make real contributions?
Butler played the roles of small forward and veteran sage for the Pacers, and performed both well. His field goal percentage (.464) and three-point percentage (.419) were the second-best of his career, trailing only those from his second year in the NBA, way back in the 2003-04 season, when he was playing in Miami and his locker neighbor, Lance Stephenson, was 13 years old.
Photo Gallery: Rasual Butler's 2013-14 Season
Butler played only garbage times minutes early in the season. Four of his first five appearances were for 65 seconds or less. He didn't play at all in 14 of the first 20 games. But by the end of the season he had moved ahead of Evan Turner as the backup small forward in the playoff series against Miami.
His best performance came in the final regular season game at Orlando, when he played 37 minutes, 43 seconds and scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, passed out five assists and didn't commit a turnover. He got significant minutes in the each game of the series against the Heat, hitting 6-of-13 shots, including 5-of-10 three-pointers. Through more than 56 minutes of playing time in that series, he committed one turnover, although he also had no assists and just four rebounds.
His greatest contributions, though, were the intangibles that come with maturity and gratitude. He was a veteran voice in times of need, and a steadying influence on the younger players – which happened to be everyone on the roster. A free agent, he would no doubt like to come back, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him in uniform again next season, dispensing jump shots and wisdom.
“He's a great leader, a great teammate,” George Hill said of Butler during the season. “He's been in the NBA, he's been around good teams, he's been around bad teams, he knows how to win, there's nothing flashy about him, but what we need from him is his leadership. That's the most positive thing that he brings. Great locker room guy. (He can) hold everyone accountable, make them do things that maybe he knows he should have done early in his career.”
There's value in that.