- The Washington Times - Friday, May 18, 2007

Washington Wizards forward Caron Butler was given approval to begin practicing again Wednesday, about six weeks after his first All-Star season came to an end because of a broken finger.

“Yeah, it’s kind of bittersweet,” Butler said in a telephone interview. “Obviously, it came a couple of weeks too late. … The thing now is to just concentrate on getting ready for the start of training camp.”

The fifth-year forward was having the best season of his career when he broke his right index finger April 1 while trying to block a breakaway dunk by Milwaukee’s Ruben Patterson. Butler struck the backboard on the play, causing the injury.

Four days later, guard and scoring leader Gilbert Arenas suffered a season-ending knee injury. When the playoffs began, the Wizards proved no match for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who swept them 4-0 in the first round.

“You can’t dwell on what might have been,” Butler said. “We would have loved to have played in the playoffs, both me and Gilbert, but it is what it is. I think it’s going to help us be a stronger team next season.”

In 63 games Butler averaged career highs in points (19.1), rebounds (7.4), assists (3.7) and steals (2.1). He also shot a career-best .463 from the field.

Butler plans to return to his hometown of Racine, Wis., before returning to the Washington area. In late June, he’ll conduct a basketball camp for boys and girls aged 8-16 at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville.

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