Caron Butler, who spent four-plus seasons in Washington as a member of the Wizards’ “Big Three,” dropped by the office on Tuesday to promote his upcoming biography, “Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA.”
“He’s an unbelievable person,” said Butler, 35, who signed with Sacramento in July after spending last season with Detroit. “He was the main reason I went to Oklahoma City to try to push for that championship. Our relationship and our friendship grew so much over the years and we talk on a consistent basis.”
After LeBron James and the Heat lost to the Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals, Butler remembers thinking how great it would be if James, an Akron, Ohio native, opted out of his contract with Miami and returned to Cleveland, the hometown team with whom he spent the first seven years of his career. Butler, who kept a close eye on Durant’s development at Montrose Christian while he was with the Wizards, admitted to thinking about a similar homecoming for his former Thunder teammate when Durant becomes a free agent next summer.
“[Oklahoma City GM] Sam Presti’s going to kill me, but … how amazing would that be if KD returned to this area, you know the impact and how special it would be? We’re going to play this game of basketball, we’ve got a window of opportunity to do it and it’s gone and then you’re off to something else. But what would your legacy be? I think LeBron really tapped into his legacy and he found his niche and knew what his niche was, always playing basketball and making people better, but [he thought] where can I have the biggest impact for my legacy and my brand? Going back to Cleveland, and he was accepted with open arms and he’s impacting lives, he’s changing lives, he’s uplifting the whole community.
“Kevin Durant. He [could] go to the Lakers. Great market, unbelievable, the city of Los Angeles. New York, unbelievable. Pat Riley, Miami, championship contender. But what if he came back to Washington, D.C., the most powerful city in America? It’s where he’s from. It would be so impactful. It would be so uplifting for the DMV.”
Butler described Durant and Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook as “two alpha males” and “the best duo in basketball, arguably.” He also said there’s a sense of urgency for the Thunder heading into this season.
“I think it’s all-in on this season and I think the organization of Oklahoma [City] feels the pressure of that, to win now,” Butler said. “I know they know that organizations like Washington and the Lakers and other organizations are real intriguing with guys like a John Wall and a Bradley Beal, or a John Wall and a KD and some cap space to get another [player]. There are so many variables out there and it’s so intriguing, like, how can you not look at that, going home? That’s tempting.”
Butler, who grew up in Racine, Wis., had the opportunity to play for his hometown team when he was traded to Milwaukee before the 2013-14 season.
“It was a great feeling, it was unbelievable,” Butler said. “I wish I could’ve done it earlier in my career. I thought it would’ve been really, really good. It’s a feeling like no other and the impact that you have while you’re there is real time consuming. It’s a lot. So, a star of [Durant’s] magnitude, I know it would be really overwhelming, but I’m pretty sure the organization and the city would try to stay out of his way as much as possible to keep him here.”