The Spurs were chasing a lot of different small forwards during the abbreviated free agency period and tops on their list was Caron Butler. Alas, Butler didn’t sign with the San Antonio Spurs, opting instead for the Los Angeles Clippers. Butler’s visit to San Antonio seemingly went really well, so what could’ve been the problem? As Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes, part of the problem could’ve been money.
“And then the Los Angeles Clippers said take-it-or-leave-it, not for as much as the New Jersey Nets bid in free agency, but for more than the San Antonio Spurs offered. Butler felt he couldn’t wait, even if it meant putting a friend on hold.”
The story revolves around how Butler almost signed with the Miami Heat, so it doesn’t go in to too much detail about Butler’s meeting with the Spurs, but this does show that the Spurs were offering less than the $5 million a year they could’ve offered. While the team did seem set on upgrading at the small forward position, paying Butler the full $5 million of the mid-level exception would’ve meant they would’ve owed close to $17 million (if you include Kawhi Leonard’s contract) to the small forward corps, past and present for this season alone. I’m sure if the Spurs could’ve gotten Butler at a bargain, Richard Jefferson would be playing somewhere else right now.
Butler’s been great for the Clippers, but with how well Jefferson is shooting the ball and how quickly Kawhi Leonard is developing, should Spurs fans be upset the team lost out on Butler? Production at the small forward position certainly has not been the team’s problem so far this season.