MIAMI (AP) - Da’Sean Butler was still with the Miami Heat when he awoke Monday morning, in theory just hours away from making the championship contender’s 15-man roster.
In reality, his chance went away a few days earlier.
Finding themselves unable to keep two injured perimeter players on the roster after Mike Miller’s thumb surgery last week, the Heat grudgingly waived Butler _ the hero of West Virginia’s run to the NCAA Final Four this past spring. Miami also cut guard Patrick Beverley, getting down to the NBA’s limit of 15 on the eve of the season-opener at Boston.
Doctors originally thought Butler could be cleared for some basketball activity by the beginning of the NBA season. But the 6-foot-7 forward had a setback with his surgically repaired left knee in July, leading to a second surgery that further pushed back when he could return to the court.
“You run out of spots,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You really would love to keep a couple developmental guys, especially two players like Patrick Beverley and Da’Sean Butler. They were phenomenal while they were here. Patrick made significant progress just since this summer and Butler, that was tough because we never got to see him play, but we were a big fan of his winning mentality.”
If Butler isn’t picked up on waivers, he plans to remain rehabbing in Miami, agent Richard Katz said.
Butler has rented an apartment in South Florida, and several Heat players _ LeBron James included _ have said in recent weeks they were impressed simply by seeing what he did in the college game.
“He’s an unbelievable talent,” James said last week. “And the leadership he showed for that West Virginia team … anytime you watched a game, you always hear the commentators say, when those guys needed a bucket or needed a big play, ‘Where’s Da’Sean at?’ And he always delivered.”
Butler was the 42nd pick in this year’s draft, his stock dropping considerably after tearing a ligament in his left knee during the Mountaineers’ Final Four loss to eventual NCAA champion Duke. He was listed as the 21st-best player in the draft by Heat officials, which is why they were thrilled to grab him in the second round.
Miller got hurt in practice on Oct. 20 and had surgery to repair a broken right thumb as well as ligament damage two days later. Miller isn’t expected to return until January, and the Heat signed veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse over the weekend to add depth to the perimeter.
Butler averaged 17.2 points for West Virginia as a senior.
Beverley was bidding to be the team’s third point guard behind Carlos Arroyo, who’ll start Tuesday’s opener in Boston, and Mario Chalmers. Beverley appeared in six preseason games, starting two, and averaged 6.5 points on 28 percent shooting.
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