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Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Caron Butler announces big intentions

By Jeff Caplan

Say this for Dallas Mavericks small forward/shooting guard Caron Butler: He's not afraid of expectations.

In fact, on Wednesday, Butler's publicity team at Swanson Communications made it official: Butler is expecting to have a big, big season.

"I have been talking to my teammates and coach [Rick] Carlisle about what this group of players can achieve. As a team we have a lot of expectations for what we can accomplish this year," Butler said in a press release. "Maybe losing in the early round last year is what we needed as a team. Now I sense hunger from everyone to get it done this season. We are all looking forward to training camp, getting in a team rhythm and doing some big things this year."

As has been noted here several times this summer, Butler made it a priority to drop weight and get stronger and quicker. He spent the last month working with conditioning guru Tim Grover in Chicago. Butler is back in Dallas and preparing for the start of training camp on Tuesday at SMU. The team will hold its Media Day on Monday at the American Airlines Center.

"I've been focusing on my core this off-season," Butler said in a press release. "My legs are stronger. I feel like I'm more agile, and I have a lot more flexibility in my hips. I've lost 10 pounds and I am down to 225. That's where I wanted to be and where the coaching staff wanted me. ... Since being in Chicago with Grover, my explosiveness is back, and I feel better than ever. He tapped into what I needed. He's made my game better. Last year, I was settling for jump shots. Now I want to be more aggressive and execute a variety of looks from the court both on the attack and on defense."

Music to the Mavs' ears.

"With this team that we have in place, I want to win it all," Butler said. "We definitely want to finish in the top three in the West. That's a very realistic goal. We want homecourt [advantage] heading into the playoffs. To have an opportunity in this conference, you want that. Then once you're in the playoffs anything can happen, and I believe we can make a run to the top."

Of course, we'll see if Butler is around long enough to see those goals through. His expiring, $10.8 million contract will be attractive at the trade deadline, when Butler was acquired last season. Mavs owner Mark Cuban has made it no secret that the club will continue to seek a second superstar to pair with the Dirk Nowitzki.

If a deal pops up, Butler could very well be a part of the trade. But, until that happens, at least the Mavs know they have a player who's ready to roll in a big, big year.