What Is Da'Sean Butler's Future With The San Antonio Spurs? A Q&A With Paul Garcia Of ProjectSpurs.com

Last week, I chatted with Paul Garcia of ProjectSpurs.com about the newest member of the Spurs, Da'Sean Butler for an article he wrote concerning how Butler could fit in with the Spurs based upon his college game. Butler, of course, is one of the top basketball players in Mountaineer history, after wrapping up his college career with a Final Four run during his senior season in 2010. During that season, Butler became famous nationwide with a series of game-winners and clutch performances on the way to a Big East Championship. He was projected as a first-round NBA draft pick before the Final Four in Indianapolis.

That was before the Duke game. That was before a horrific knee-injury that ruptured his ACL, caused an MCL sprain and 2 bone bruises in his left knee.

Now, over a year later, Butler is fully healthy and with his second NBA team. He was drafted by the Miami Heat in the second round of last year's NBA Draft. The Heat intended to keep Butler based upon his potential should his knee fully heal. However, the Heat didn't have the roster space available for Butler, and had to release him. He remained in Miami and underwent rehabilitation on the injured knee. Rehabilitation that was paid for by the Heat.

In December of last year, Butler's knee was well enough that he was cleared to practice. On March 5, I reported that Butler had a tryout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and was close to being cleared to play. Two weeks later, doctors gave Butler a clean bill of health, that allowed him to play fully for the first time since the Final Four, almost one year after the injury. Butler was a free-agent after being released by the Heat and signed with the San Antonio Spurs days after his clearance. Butler was sent to the Spurs NBDL affiliate, Austin Toros, to get acquainted with the Spurs system.

I asked Paul Garcia about Butler's status with the Spurs. Garcia is a unique member of the Spurs media as he is a credentialed media member for ProjectSpurs.com and TorosNation.com. During the season he covers Spurs home games and some weekends he travels to Austin to catch up with the Toros, to keep an eye on the players in the D-League. He hosts the ‘Spurscast’ (the first Spurs podcast) on different occasions.You can find Garcia on Twitter @24writer. All of his work is through Project Spurs and Toros Nation; however, many of his articles get posted on Spurs.com, Mysa.com and AlamoCityTimes.com. If there's one member of the media to talk to about San Antonio Spur,Da'Sean Butler, it's Paul Garcia.

1. What was it that the Spurs liked about Butler that led them to sign him?

The Spurs felt that SHOULD he return to full health, he has a real chance at cracking the rotation next season. He was a safe gamble for them, and since he was able to play at the highest level of basketball before the injury, he has the chance to make an impact on the offensive and defensive ends for them in their run-and-gun system. With Richard Jefferson struggling, and James Anderson still relatively young, it’s always good to have another option in your back pocket such as Butler.


2. After Butler was signed by the Spurs, he was sent to their NBDL affiliate, Austin Toros, for assignment for their last few games of the regular season and playoffs. Although Butler wasn't active for any of those games, what did the Spurs see out of Butler at the practices he participated in as a member of the Toros?

I spoke with one of our Toros writers, Mikkayla Guillet of TorosNation.com and she said she didn’t recall seeing Butler in any sort of warm up drills. He told her he felt "joy" to have been called upon by the Spurs and was thankful another NBA ball club was willing to give him a chance. Head coach Gregg Popovich told the San Antonio Express News that he had yet to see Butler in full action, only pieces of him doing drills against pylons. He said he’ll really get to see what Butler’s about in training camp.


3. What are Spurs looking for out of Butler?

The Spurs are looking for Butler to give them 5-9 points off the bench and also fit into their defensive system. In their system, it’s about containing your man, but also being able to help and recover on perimeter shooters. Should Butler return to full health, I feel his passing ability (as you mentioned) and immediate scoring ability will easily flow into the Spurs’ offensive system. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili love to push the ball up the floor and find the wing man first; from there, the wing player can drive, pass or shoot.

The Spurs should also be looking for Butler to attack or shoot the open jumper because he will get plenty of looks when Parker, Ginobili and George Hill attack the paint. Richard Jefferson has become very passive and thus, he lost his minutes in the playoffs. Coach Pop
is looking for an aggressive wing out on the perimeter, so he’ll be looking at Anderson and Butler to hone in on that position.


4. What have you heard about Butler's rehabilitation on his knee?

From all interviews I’ve read, he’s ready to go. Just recently as Sunday, one of our writer’s (Jeff Garcia) found out that Butler told a site he is fully ready to go.

"Honestly, I'm fine now. I'm good to go," Butler added. "I'm working out every day and shooting. I'm just playing as much as I can to get back into shape. I'm lifting a lot to keep the strength up in my leg."

"I'm starting to catch myself beginning to do the things I used to do. Like, if we're playing five-on-five, I'm not even thinking about my knee anymore. I just go out and play. That's cool, because I was so worried about my knee for the longest time. Now I don't even worry about it that much."

"I'll know I'll be as nervous as hell before my first game back. That may be the most nervous I'll ever be before a basketball game."


5. Should Butler recover fully from his knee-injury, what type of future does he have with the Spurs?

I feel he has a great chance to make the rotation should he fully recover from the injury. Whether there is a lockout or not, he still has a great chance to make a permanent spot in the rotation by All-Star break. Should there be a lockout, the team will simply send him up to Austin to work with the Toros. There, he will learn all of the offensive and defensive sets along with terminology that the Toros/ Spurs use. If he has an impact up there, he’ll be ready for the call up when the season resumes. If there isn’t a lockout, it depends how he performs in his training camp that will give Coach Pop the confidence to keep him on the Spurs or send him to Austin for some more practice.

Richard Jefferson is the player the team is most looking to unload through trades as he has under achieved in his first two seasons. The issue with him is his gigantic contract; most teams will not be willing to trade from him because of that deal. Should Jefferson continue to struggle, I feel that opens the door for both Anderson and Butler to make a push for the backup small forward role or even contend for the starting job.
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