When veteran forward Caron Butler signed with the Kings in the offseason, general manager Vlade Divac viewed him as a great locker room presence.
Butler never figured to play major minutes, but being a part of the rotation seemed likely.
Butler, however, hasn’t played much this season. He would like to be more than a solid veteran voice for a team, which likely will lead to his departure from Sacramento.
ESPN reported Wednesday that the Kings had agreed to trade the 14th-year forward, possibly by next Thursday to a team that could offer more playing time.
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Milwaukee was cited as a likely destination; Butler is a native of Racine, Wis.
Butler, 35, said he would discuss the situation at a later date. He had played in only eight games this season entering Friday and had not played since getting eight minutes (no shots attempted, one steal) Dec. 3 against the Boston Celtics in Mexico City.
“Caron I know has talked to Vlade, and Vlade has relayed to me the information,” said Kings coach George Karl. “And I talked to Caron a couple weeks ago about why he isn’t playing. I’m sure my reasoning didn’t make him happy, but right now Omri (Casspi) is playing so well I don’t feel I should take minutes from a guy who’s gone from kind of a role player to a substantial starter for us.”
Casspi is on pace to have his best season as a pro. He entered Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center averaging career highs in points (11.9), rebounds (6.1), minutes (28.6), field-goal percentage (.500) and three-point percentage (.430).
Omri (Casspi) is playing so well I don’t feel I should take minutes from a guy who’s gone from kind of a role player to a substantial starter for us.
Kings coach George Karl
Casspi became a starter due to Willie Cauley-Stein’s finger injury and is averaging 14.6 points in seven starts this season.
Casspi had backed up Rudy Gay at small forward. Cauley-Stein’s injury moved Gay to power forward.
Because Karl can still use Gay at small forward or go with three-guard lineups, there are few opportunities to play Butler.
Butler is still respected among his teammates. After last month’s locker room blow-up following the Kings’ 1-7 start, Butler spoke to the media in the role of team leader.
The other player who spoke to the media was Casspi, who has flourished with his opportunity to play.
“His confidence is growing, and I think right now Caron has got to be an insurance blanket of sorts and wait for the opportunity over an 82-game season,” Karl said. “I think he’s stayed professional, but the opportunity could come.”
Remembering Flip – Karl flew to Minnesota for former Timberwolves coach and general manager Flip Saunders’ funeral in late October. Friday marked the first time Karl has coached in Minnesota since Saunders died of complications from cancer.
Karl knew Saunders since they coached against each other in the CBA.
I can’t deny I remember some of my battles against him. There’s a little melancholy there. There’s a little thought process to that. Being a cancer survivor, it’s always sad when someone succumbs to it.
Karl on former Timberwolves coach and general manager Flip Saunders
“I can’t deny I remember some of my battles against him,” Karl said. “ ... There’s a little melancholy there. There’s a little thought process to that. Being a cancer survivor, it’s always sad when someone succumbs to it.”