Decision to be made on Rasual Butler
Once Rasual Butler made the Pacers’ roster for the regular season, the next key date for the 11-year veteran became January 7. The Pacers have until 5 p.m. EST on Tuesday to decide whether to keep him on the roster, which would fully guarantee his contract for the remainder of the season, or waive him.
Butler’s cap hit is $885,000 and the only reason to waive him would be to create flexibility to make a trade without going into the luxury tax, which owner Herb Simon won’t allow.
As of Saturday night, Butler hadn’t heard anything.
Butler, 34, was out of the league last season and was so eager to return that he put his ego aside and willingly accepted an invitation to play on the Pacers’ Summer League team. Down in Orlando, he impressed many to the point where one Pacers official told me that Butler had a real chance to make the team’s roster.
Butler then joined the team for training camp, where he was one of the hardest workers and wearing guys out. Of the four camp invitees, he was the only one to stick.
More than his play on the court — coach Frank Vogel said in camp that it seems like every shot Butler throws up is going in — the Pacers liked how Butler looked after some of the younger guys, like Lance Stephenson, Orlando Johnson and Solomon Hill. It’s no coincidence that Butler’s locker is next to Stephenson’s and he’s frequently providing the fourth-year guard with tips or motivation.
“He’s a great leader, a great teammate,” George Hill said of Butler during camp. “…What we need from him is his leadership. That’s the most positive thing that he brings. Great locker room guy. Hold everyone accountable, make them do things that maybe he knows he should have done early in his career.”
In mid-December, Vogel inserted Butler into the rotation and he would’ve remained there if not for Danny Granger returning to the court. Granger was sidelined for the first 25 games with a strained left calf. In those three games, Butler played about 16.6 minutes a night and scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He’s now fourth on the depth chart on the wing, behind starters Paul George and Stephenson as well as Granger.
“He’s a perfect fit for this team,” one team source said of the upcoming decision. Unless Pacers president Larry Bird has a deal brewing quietly, which doesn’t seem to be the case, expect Butler to continue to provide his leadership and be the solid wing player that he is for the rest of this season.
However, if the Pacers decide to waive Butler, they could re-sign him to a 10-day contract should he clears waivers.