Caron Butler Isn’t the Answer

While I understand a growing contingent of Nets fans would be willing to personally drive Devin Harris to the airport if he were to be traded in the near future, I can only plead to those fans to please think about what you’re possibly getting in return. Because when it comes to the recent Devo for Caron Butler rumors that are making their rounds, I really don’t think this is the kind of the deal Nets fans should be looking to make.

In 07-08 and 08-09, Butler averaged more than 20 points per game on about 46 percent shooting, including 35 percent on threes two seasons ago. In 07-08 he put up a fantastic 20.59 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and last season, he put up a respectable 18.84 on a depleted Wizards team.

The problem is, Butler’s 2009-10 numbers come nowhere close to what he put up the past two seasons. With a True Shooting percentage of 51.4 and a PER of 13.67, these are Butler’s worst numbers since 2003-04, his second season in the NBA. He is the epitome of a below average offensive player at the SF right now, averaging 16.9 points on 43 percent shooting, including 29 percent from three.

And while the Wizards play better D with Butler on the floor than off (defensive efficiency of 110.2 per 100 possession on the floor vs. 111.1 per 100 off) Butler has been called out by some as being a bit lazy on defense. ESPN’s John Hollinger said he easily lost focus once Washington’s season went in the tank last season. Basketball Prospectus said in its preseason preview that Butler “gives back some of that value at the defensive end.”

So we have a player posting near career-low numbers who’s inconsistent on defense. Sounds like he’ll fit right in around here, right?

While I’m not opposed of acquiring a player like Butler before the trade deadline, it can’t be at the expense of Devin Harris. While Harris has struggled mightily, he proved last year with Vince Carter that he can be productive with an offensive-minded running mate. Plus, who’s your point guard after this season? As we already know, John Wall is no guarantee.

I still think Devin Harris needs the benefit of the doubt here. I’m as unhappy with him as the next guy, but I only think you’re in a position to move him if you get the number one pick in June. Until then, Harris is an average player at a tough position to fill, who has shown the ability to raise his offensive game when he has other players around him who can take some of the scoring burden off his shoulders. While I can’t imagine they have a terrible amount of value, the Nets would be better served looking to package Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts or Yi Jianlian with some of their expiring contracts if they’re trying to acquire a “core” piece. I was semi-satisfied to read this morning that the Nets might back down from their Devin trade talk, but with the way this organization is being run, anything can happen it seems.