Butler, making his first appearance at practice since suffering the right knee injury, said his history with a similar procedure on his left knee as a teenager leads him to believe that he could return to action in four months. That timetable would have him back on the court in late April or early May, which would be either toward the end of the first round of the playoffs or the start of the second round.
The actual post-surgery recovery time for a ruptured patellar tendon is four to six months.
"I know what muscles to keep fired, what little things to do," Butler said. "I just need some time. I've been through this before when I was 15 years old and it took about 4.5 months to come back from, and I was rolling. I was good. I was healthy. So I just need some time."
Butler, who was averaging 15.0 points and 4.1 rebounds this season, ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee on Jan. 1 at Milwaukee. He underwent surgery on Jan. 4. The Mavericks are 2-6 during his absence, including a decade-worst six-game losing streak.
However, projecting too far into the future can be tricky. Butler is in a unique position because he is in the final year of a $10.6 million contract, making him a potential trade piece before the late February deadline.
Butler said he has not talked to owner Mark Cuban or president Donnie Nelson about his future.
"I've talked to them about basketball and they checked on me all the time to make sure I'm doing fine and seeing how my family is doing and stuff like that," Butler said. "Anything can happen. Like I said, I will be 100 percent again. So we'll see what happens."
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.