Caron Butler is coming home. The Racine native, and 11 year veteran of the NBA was traded to the Bucks last week. In exchange, Milwaukee sent point guard Ish Smith and center Viacheslav Kravstov to the Phoenix Suns, where Butler had played since July. Smith appeared in 16 games with the Bucks after joining the team in February as part of the J.J. Redick swap; Kravstov spent only the month of August in team’s summer camp before departing.
Butler’s homecoming is bittersweet. A product of a difficult childhood in Racine, he was arrested more than 15 times by his 15thbirthday. His high school career in the city was often eclipsed by his street-troubles, as he saw more court-time at the county’s juvenile penitentiary than on Racine High School’s gym floor. An enrollment in the Maine Central Institute when he was 17 saved Butler, however, as he flourished on the independent school’s team during his final two years of high school.
Following his time at the Maine Central Institute, Butler’s basketball career was in full-swing. Awarded a scholarship to play under Jim Calhoun at the University of Connecticut in 2000, he finished that year as the Huskies top scorer and rebounder. He took home a gold medal at the 2001 FIBA World Championships for Young Men.
After another standout season his sophomore year at UConn,Butler applied for the draft in 2002. The Miami Heat took him with their first-round pick at 10th overall, though injuries during his second season with the team saw him traded to the Lakers in 2005. Butler wouldn’t see any playing-time in Los Angeles before being sent to Washington for remainder of the 2005 season.
With the Wizards, the small forward became a mainstay of the team’s scoring trio. He, Antawn Johnson, and Gilbert Arenas led Washington to a playoff berth against Cleveland in the 2006 playoffs, though a loss in game 6 dropped them from competition. Despite that, the Wizards renegotiated a four-year contract with Butler worth $46 million. He would remain in Washington until 2010, earning All-Star honors twice during that time.
Denied an extension following the expiration of his contract with the Wizards in 2010, Butler played on a single-year deal until February, when he given to Dallas in exchange for four players. The Mavericks would eventually win an NBA title just a year later; though knee surgery kept Butler from assisting that effort. He was released by Dallas in late 2011, but recovered quickly with a three-year signing with the Clippers.