NBA Roundtable

Clippers Acquire Rasual Butler

In Trade Talk on August 12, 2009 at 7:02 pm

Hat tip to Dino Gunner for the heads up on the trade

Los Angeles Clippers acquire: Rasual Butler

New Orleans Hornets acquire: More cap flexibility, and a future second round pick

The Report

ESPN reports

The New Orleans Hornets have agreed to trade swingman Rasual Butler to the Los Angeles Clippers for a future second-round pick, according to NBA front-office sources.

The trade is expected to be announced later Wednesday.

Butler is scheduled to earn $3.9 million next season. With the Clippers looking for an extra shooter and depth at both shooting guard and small forward, sources said the team was amenable to absorbing the final year of Butler’s contract, which will save New Orleans nearly $8 million when factoring in the luxury-tax implications.

The Clippers were able to absorb Butler’s contract without surrendering a player by plugging his salary into the $7.3 million trade exception they created when it dealt Zach Randolph to Memphis last month.

Interesting update in ESPN’s article on the Hornets cap situation post-trades — Emeka + Butler

If the Hornets can shed some $4 million more in payroll between now and February in a similar deal that does not force them to take a contract in return, they are poised to move beneath the $69.9 million tax threshhold for next seaso

Dunleavy adding

“We believe he is another piece who will help us get back to being a competitive playoff team,” Clippers coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy said.

Update: Information on the pick, plus the Hornets received cash considerations

The Los Angeles Clippers today acquired veteran swingman Rasual Butler and cash from the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for a conditional second round draft pick in 2016.

So a second round pick from 2016 plus whatever those cash considerations are worth.

The Trade

Los Angeles Clippers

This is a superb trade for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Let’s have a quick look at their wings to see why:

  • Eric Gordon
  • Al Thornton
  • Ricky Davis
  • Mardy Collins

That’s it, the only had four wings on their team. Mardy Collins isn’t a rotation caliber player in the NBA. Ricky Davis is an interesting case because he’s clearly a talented player and previously was capable of helping a team, but he was simply atrocious last season and nowhere near the standard of a rotation caliber player either. That’s their bench right there, on the wing, two players who shouldn’t be seeing regular minutes for a squad.

The Clippers are even more vulnerable because of Al Thornton’s struggles to improve from his rookie season, he’s too one-dimensional and not good enough at that one dimension to make up for the holes in his game elsewhere (defense, rebounding, passing). So, because of Al Thornton, the Clippers needs for strong backup wings who can be relied upon to help the team is even more important than for most squaeds.

In Rasual Butler, the Clippers got their man. Butler will immediately become their best wing defender, and himself and Eric Gordon should be a nice combination defensively. He won’t help on the backboards, unfortunately neither does Gordon, Thornton or Davis … but Butler will become the Clippers 2nd best shooter out on the perimeter, and a good efficient complementary offensive player overall. Having a shooter of Butler’s caliber is always good for a team, and especially useful for a club boasting two penetrating high scoring guards (Baron Davis + Eric Gordon), as well as two go-to scoring big men (Blake Griffin + Chris Kaman).

To conclude, the Clippers picked up someone who is either their second best or third best win on the team. Someone who’ll play 20 minutes or so a night and help the club. Someone who is on an expiring contract and doesn’t effect their cap situation for next season. Someone who will immediately provide some help defensive and with their perimeter shooting. And they got this player while giving away hardly anything.

A superb trade by the Los Angeles Clippers.

New Orleans Hornets

Fair enough …

It’s hard to say anything other than that for the Hornets. Their payroll is massive, they were deep into the luxury tax, and they’re not a legitimate contender. They’re a small town team. Selling off one of their role players for cap flexibility is fair enough.

Selling off one of their star players isn’t fair game — like Tyson Chandler, which I would have gone ballistic over! — but a role player in a position where they gave great depth, that’s fine.

Hornets Bench

The Hornets still have an excellent group of perimeter players off their bench. A very good backup point guard in Darren Collison, and a very good third string poing guard in Antonio Daniels. Then a high quality sixth man in James Posey out on the wing. The Hornets then have three more quality wing players, one of whom will fill Butler’s vacant starting spot, in Julian Wright (hugely talented player, more talented version of Ariza), Morris Peterson (rotation worthy player, and promising rookie Marcus Thornton. That leaves the Hornets with a quality replacement for Butler in the starting lineup, as well as seven high quality bench players out on the perimeter. That’s outstanding.

The Hornets problem off the bench will be their big men, and we’re saying this for what, the third or fourth year in a row and the club still hasn’t made a serious attempt at fixing this problem.

I was hoping that the Hornets GM would trade one of his wings, likely Butler, for a big man making $4-5 million. Someone with enough quality to give the Hornets a major boost there, a reliable and productive first big off the bench. Now that the Hornets have moved Butler on, and look to be making some cost-cutting moves, this idea now looks unrealistic.

Which leaves the Hornets in a limited position. They currently have two backup bigs on their books, Ike Diogu and Hilton Armstrong, and they’re only likely to pay the minimum for one or two more big men. They’ve been linked strongly to Sean Marks who had a successful year for them last season, and I think that would be a good decision and expect it to be finanalized over the next few weeks. I would also like them to sign another player, and the player at the top of my list would be Joe Smith.

I think Joe Smith could make a substantial difference to the Hornets. His jump shooting ability would be a great fit alongside Chris Paul in this pick and roll predicated offense. And he’d be a solid defender + rebounder for the Hornets too. From there they can try their luck with Diogu, and if he fails, rely on the trustworthy Sean Marks for a contribution.

Conclusions

Superb trade for the Clippers.

It always hurts to lose a talented player, but the Hornets have so much depth and quality on the perimeter so they should be able to handle Butler’s loss fairly well. As for the decision to trade him, I can’t possibly hold that against them considering their luxury tax situation.

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  1. Small market teams with big market payrolls have to make tough decisions. Hopefully the Hornets ownership has deep pockets and can hold the rest of this squad together for the season.
    And its about time the Clippers started spending some of the massive revenue stream they generate (on the cheap).

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