Caron Butler is close to embarking on one of the more unpredictable seasons of his career. He's in the final year of his contract and he knows how valuable his $10.8-million expiring contract will be at the trade deadline.
He also knows how valuable he can be on a Dallas Mavericks team that still believes, despite last season's first-round defeat as the West's No. 2 seed, that it can contend for a spot in the conference finals.
Butler will likely start at shooting guard, as he did when he came to Dallas from Washington in trade deadline deal, because of the unfortunate offseason injury to Roddy Beaubois. The hope has been to move Butler to his favored small forward position, but either way, coach Rick Carlisle said he plans to use the 6-foot-7 Butler in a variety of ways.
"He's going to play a lot of three, he's going to play some two and he may even play some four this year," Carlisle said.
Butler can't control when he'll play or even where he'll play if he's included in a trade as the Mavs continue to try to pry a superstar. So, Butler is taking care of what he can control, and that's getting his 228-pound body into tip-top condition.
He has spent a good chunk of the summer training in Chicago with renowned personal trainer Tim Grover. Dropping some pounds was a point that Butler and Carlisle talked about and mutually agreed upon shortly after the season.
"I went and saw him after the season in D.C., and we spent some time on some things for him to work on this summer that I think were important," Carlisle said. "One of the things we both talked about was him getting a little bit lighter. I have no doubt he's going to come in here ready to go."
Carlisle will get to see first-hand how well Butler's offseason conditioning has progressed next week when he's in Chicago for the NBA head coaches meetings.
"Caron's doing great," Carlisle said of his training. "I just think it will help his overall game and help us."