About a week ago, I wrote this long post detailing Caron Butler's fall from grace, based on stuff I had witnessed firsthand with media credentials. But even though a lot of the information in there was firsthand, I realize that a lot of stuff remained unclear. Why did he play so uninspired? What were the factors? It was more a piece to get the ball rolling on discussing what I believed was a key reason for the Wizards' terrible season.
Thankfully, today we have more answers. Michael Lee comes through with this much-needed feature on Butler, and in it, there are several very revealing points. The major one to take away? Butler was resentful of not receiving a contract extension before the season began.
And he appeared to sulk after failing to receive a contract extension before the season began.
With Butler's contract set to expire after the 2010-11 season, Grunfeld didn't want to tie up more money in a group that lost three first-round series against the Cavaliers, especially after committing about $161 million in contracts to Arenas and Jamison in the summer or 2008.
Not giving Butler an extension was a perfectly defensible move by Ernie Grunfeld. Butler was going to be 30 years old by the end of his deal. There was absolutely no reason to reward him with an extension two years before his contract ended.
Nevertheless, Butler felt dissed, and as we discussed last week, lingering resentment over having to carry the team while Gilbert Arenas was injured and, well, space-cadet'y took it's toll. This quote in particular is very revealing.
"I wasn't upset about it, but I worked my tail off the last couple of years when Gilbert was injured," Butler said of the extension. "Obviously, he's the cornerstone and the franchise guy for that organization, you know, without a doubt. He'll go down as one of the best players to ever play the game if he comes back [healthy]. But when he was out, you've got to give credit where credit was due. I was at the helm, helping lead that ballclub to the playoffs and things of that nature. I obviously got injured and wasn't able to make the push at the butt end of the seasons. But that was me and Antawn, being the leaders and controlling the atmosphere and everything around there. You should be compensated and rewarded. I understand it's a business, you put it aside and get prepared for the season but it was tough. You expect certain things."
In other words, "I wasn't upset about it, but I was upset about it."
Also, Butler wasn't a fan of Flip Saunders' offense and reportedly complained about not getting enough shots. He claimed that Saunders was trying to "force players to be certain things" instead of fitting his system around the personnel. Finally, he claims that he and Arenas get along, despite the resentment that clearly resulted from what happened this season.
Seriously, read the whole thing and give a metaphorical (or literal) gold star to Michael Lee. He did great here.