This comes from the Wizards.com blog, so take it for what it's worth.
One day after sitting out against the Timberwolves with lower back pain, Caron Butler missed practice today, and is questionable for tomorrow against the Nets.
"Before I had mild little back pains and I was able to play through it. Now it's a little too tight and I don't want to be out there and not be able to perform at a high level. I think I would be hurting the team."
There are three reasons this news really concerns me.
- Back pain is not something that you should play around with. Darius Songaila had a similar problem before training camp, and he sat out four months. It's so hard to repair a bad back, and it tends to stay with you for your entire career. Back pain has relegated Tracy McGrady from a guy who always attacked the basket to one that is more of a jump-shooter. Maybe there's a reason Butler has struggled the last couple games.
- Caron Butler is the type of player who will play through a lot of pain. Last year, he had a major thumb injury, but only sat out 5 regular-season games. If he says he's hurting, he's definitely really hurting, and while the quote he provided was kind of cliche, if he feels his presence would actually hurt the team, then the injury has to be a little more serious than we thought.
- Caron Butler is arguably the Wizards most essential player, save (maybe) for Arenas. Last year, the Wizards went 0-5 with Tuff Juice out, and this year, their only other option is to play the decrepit Jarvis Hayes. If yesterday is any indication, the dropoff from Butler to Hayes is somewhat akin to trying to cast someone other than Jack Nicholson in the role of Frank Costello. Actually, it's much, much worse. Not only is Butler such a good player, but Hayes, at this point, is a very bad one.
With Antawn Jamison's return still a week off, the Wizards are in big trouble if Butler is also hurt. Hopefully this won't be something major, but I'm skeptical.