- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2008

Washington Wizards small forward Caron Butler will withdraw from Sunday’s All-Star Game in New Orleans after missing a fifth straight game with a strained left hip flexor.

Upon receiving word on Butler’s status from the Wizards, the NBA announced Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen will fill his spot on the Eastern Conference team.

Butler earned his second straight All-Star selection after leading the Wizards with averages of 21.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.4 steals in the absence of guard Gilbert Arenas, who has missed all but eight games this season while recovering from knee surgery.

“I am disappointed that I am going to miss the All-Star Game,” Butler said. “I feel it is best for me to get the proper rest in preparation for the second half of the season. I am honored to be selected as an All-Star. I will still enjoy the weekend with my teammate Antawn Jamison and my fellow NBA All-Stars.”

Butler originally suffered the injury in a Jan. 27 overtime loss to Milwaukee. The sixth-year veteran scored a career-high 40 points in the defeat but missed the next three games before returning to action Feb. 3 against the Lakers.

Two nights later while playing at Philadelphia, Butler backpedaled down the court in the third quarter when he felt his hip lock up. Butler hobbled off the court and did not return. He later admitted he had rushed in his return and because of that his hip was more severely injured the second time around.

Butler has exercised caution during this recovery process. After watching the Wizards kick off a four-game West Coast trip with a loss to Denver on Friday, Butler said he wanted to return but didn’t want to risk causing more damage and in turn having the injury flare up repeatedly during the second half of the season.

He did some light court work in each of the last five days but still felt pain in his hip.

Butler’s absence from Sunday’s game will leave Jamison to represent the Wizards on his own. Jamison — a forward making his second All-Star appearance — averages 21.4 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. Tomorrow he will fly from Los Angeles to New Orleans for the festivities that run from tomorrow to Sunday.

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