While retaining Trevor Ariza remains their focus after already locking up Marcin Gortat, the Wizards don’t want to be caught stammering in case the free agent swingman chooses to play elsewhere.
The Wizards have quietly worked behind the scenes and reached out to several potential replacements, including the last small forward to reach all-star status with the franchise: Caron Butler. A person close to Butler confirmed Thursday that Washington expressed interest in the veteran swingman.
Butler has also been contacted by the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, the four-time reigning Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers, the person said. Like many perimeter players on the market – including Ariza – Butler is waiting to see where LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony winds up before figuring out where he fits in.
After finishing last season with Oklahoma City, the 34-year-old Butler expressed a desire to keep playing and he remains in pursuit of another championship ring. The Wizards dealt Butler to Dallas in the first move that ignited their rebuilding efforts in February 2010. A year later, Butler won a championship with Dallas but was unable to play as he recovered from a severe knee injury.
The past four seasons, Butler has bounced around the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix, Milwaukee and Oklahoma City, but he still owns a home in Virginia from his 4½-year run with the Wizards. Butler is expected to choose a title contender with his career winding down, but Gortat supported the Wizards making a run for Butler on Twitter last month, writing, “get him …” after the Thunder was eliminated in the conference finals.
One of the Wizards’ free agent options came off the board Thursday. Oklahoma City swingman Thabo Sefolosha agreed to a three-year, $12 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation. Sefolosha met with the Wizards a day earlier and even attended a Mystics game.
According to league sources, the Wizards also have reached out to Anthony Morrow, Marvin Williams, P.J. Tucker, Luol Deng and Danny Granger, among others.