Earlier this morning, The Vertical's Shams Charania reported that Sacramento Kings veteran forward Caron Butler has exercised his $1.5 million player option for 2016-17, effectively announcing his return to the Sacramento Kings next season. Sort of.
Sacramento's Caron Butler has exercised his $1.5M player option for 2016-'17, league sources tell The Vertical.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 21, 2016
This is interesting on a few different levels, and I'd be particularly interested in knowing Caron Butler's motive for opting into his contract for next season. The Kings were reportedly shopping Caron Butler for nearly all of last season because he was frustrated with the lack of playing time he was getting, and the salary cap will be notoriously expanding this summer, so all logic pointed towards a Caron Butler opt-out, and one final, albeit minor, payday.
Don't get me wrong, under any salary cap situation, Caron Butler isn't getting paid again. He's a 36-year old NBA player who barely played last season, but considering his frustration with the Kings, coupled with his league-minimum contract, an opt-out seemed inevitable.
Of course, Caron Butler could have some sort of an agreement with the Kings prior to his opt-in, whether that is a pre-disclosed trade, a minutes promise next season, or a better understanding of his role with the Kings, it would make this opt-in news a little more logical. I also won't rule out the possibility that Butler is banking on some sort of a buyout, allowing him to get paid by the Kings, and whoever else he signs with after being waived, but that would be handing the controls to his future over to the Sacramento Kings, and it just doesn't seem like a gamble worth taking for Caron Butler at this stage of his career.
Please excuse my skepticism, this news is pretty shocking, but if everything can be taken at face value, this is really good news for the Sacramento Kings. His on court production dipped considerably last season, partly because he rarely played, but even throughout his reported frustrating, he was a good locker room presence, and that fact has been backed up by multiple Kings throughout the offseason. DeMarcus Cousins, specifically, has referenced his importance multiple times since the season ended.
It's worth mentioning Richard Jefferson's on-court and off-court role in the Cleveland Cavaliers' success this season. I'm not predicting a similar on-court impact from Caron Butler next season, and I'm certainly not predicting an NBA Championship for the Sacramento Kings next season, but veterans of that ilk are important. The Kings finally have one, and it's great news if he really is sticking around.