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Friday, February 25, 2011
Caron Butler still a Mav, but for how long?

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- Ultimately, Caron Butler was right. He's still a member of the Dallas Mavericks after the NBA trade deadline. That doesn't mean he wasn't included in potential deals. Had Detroit come around on letting go of Tayshaun Prince, Butler would likely be a Piston today.

So Butler will finish out his $10.6 million expiring contract rehabbing his right knee and fighting to make a return for the playoffs, a feat he has predicted he will accomplish. He's also made strong comments suggesting he will re-sign with the Mavs after he becomes a free agent this summer.

Nelson wouldn't delve that deep into the future after Thursday's 2 p.m. deadline passed without the Mavs making a move. However, Nelson said he wasn't disappointed that the club didn't cash in Butler's contract for immediate help, and he praised Butler as though the 30-year-old (he turns 31 on March 13) is a piece the Mavs might like to have back as their starting small forward.

"He's part of the fabric of what we've been doing and what we're going to do," Nelson said. "In fairness to him, I don't know a guy that's put his heart and soul into this team like he has. He's back there right now as we speak working to get back. We really value that kind of person in our locker room."

One motivation for Butler to play in the postseason is to help the team and experience the playoffs. Another is to show the Mavs and other teams that his right knee, which required surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon, is back to full strength as he heads into free agency and likely his last chance to cash in.