No Gasol for Memphis

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Pau GasolMemphisJuan Carlos Navarro

\ Butler not sweating his spot\

\ With the release of the All-Star starters yesterday, plenty of speculation looms over who will make the trip next month to New Orleans as reserves. Wizards small forward Caron Butler (21.5 points, 4.3 assists, 2.3 steals — all career highs) is believed to be a lock. Teammate Antawn Jamison, despite 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds (second in the Eastern Conference) is believed to be more of a fringe player because of a lockjam of standout forwards this season.\

\ But Butler said before tonight’s game that the chatter over his status hasn’t been a distraction.\

\ “That stuff will take care of itself; just go out and win games,” Butler said. “Just play basketball, win games, make the playoffs and win a championship. That’s the big picture.”\

\ Butler says he doesn’t even know who he would pick if he were to draw up his own Eastern Conference squad.\

\ “I haven’t been following one particular player or been paying enough attention to know,” he said. “There are a lotta guys I like. I love Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Richard Jefferson, Vince Carter. Obviously, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce. Rashard Lewis has been playing great basketball. So many guys out there have been playing at a high level over the course of this season.\

\ “Joe Johnson, Josh Smith,” Butler continued. “You can go to each team and pick two guys that have been playing at a high level. Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson. Ben Gordon.\

\ Not paying attention to the pre-All-Star jockeying is nothing new for Butler.\

\ “I didn’t pay attention last year, either,” he said. “They were telling me I had a shot, and I was listening, but not really focusing on it. This year I’d be just as happy and just as shocked if I made it. But I’m not tuned into no TV trying to get a sneak preview. I’m just sitting back, humble as possible and playing basketball. We’ll see what happens next week.”\

\ The All-Star reserves will be announced Jan. 31.\

\ — Mike Jones

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