- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

In contrast to the disgruntled and departed Kwame Brown, newcomer Caron Butler vowed yesterday he would “run though a wall” for the Washington Wizards.

The Wizards probably won’t ask Butler to do that after obtaining him from the Los Angeles Lakers this week in a trade for Brown, but apparently the 6-foot-7 swingman would be happy to oblige.

“This is an opportunity,” said Butler, who last season averaged career highs in points (15.9) and rebounds (5.8) for a Lakers team that missed the playoffs for the first time since 1994. “You pray for situations like this, to be put in a situation where the GM has followed you since high school and knows the ins and out of your game. It’s a great situation for me and my family, and I’m going to embrace it.”

Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld was general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks when Butler played at Park High School in Racine, Wis., and remembers taking an interest in Butler’s career back then.

“You keep an eye on special ones,” Grunfeld said yesterday.

Anyone who has kept an eye on Butler’s career probably has noticed that the Wizards will be his third team in four seasons since he was selected by the Miami Heat as the No.10 pick in 2002 after his junior season at Connecticut.

But unlike Brown, who averaged just 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds and never came close to realizing the potential that led to the Wizards selecting him with the top pick in 2001, Butler has a nice career going.

After being dealt by Miami to the Lakers in the humongous Shaquille O’Neal trade last year, Butler finished second on the team in scoring. During one stretch Butler, whom the Wizards plan to use at both small forward and off guard, averaged 21.9 points.

Earlier, with Miami, Butler was named to the NBA All-Rookie first team after an impressive campaign in which he led the Heat in points (1,032), steals (137) and minutes. The following year Butler played a big role as the Heat made an unexpected run to the playoffs.

Chucky Atkins, also acquired from the Lakers in the deal, started all 82 regular-season games at point guard for Los Angeles last season and averaged 13.6 and 4.4 assists. Atkins said during yesterday’s press conference at MCI Center that it would be wrong to look at Butler as a player nobody wants.

“Can I say something about that to help my teammate out,” Atkins asked, interrupting Butler as he answered a question regarding his multiple trades. “Speaking as a guy who has been on four different teams in three years, when you are a great talent and you can play, a lot of teams around the league want you. If he couldn’t play, he wouldn’t be sitting here.”

Added Butler, to much laughter: “And I didn’t pay him to say that either.”

Although Grunfeld and coach Eddie Jordan didn’t badmouth Brown during the press conference, they clearly like the trade.

“We’ve added two players that are very competitive and very tough, hard-nosed guys,” Grunfeld said. “Those are the kind of players that you want to be with and get into the trenches with. If you are going to go along in the playoffs and win tough games in December and January, the dog days, you need guys who also work hard at practice.”

Said Jordan: “We can’t wait to go to training camp and put it on the floor and show our fans that we can be even deeper and more exciting with the addition of these two players.”

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