A lot of people around the NBA have a soft spot for the man known as “Tuff Juice.”
Wherever Caron Butler plays, he leaves teammates, team officials and even reporters fondly recalling their time with him and the positive impact he left behind.
The Kings signed Butler, a 6-foot-7 small forward, in the offseason hoping he’d have the same impact in their locker room, which has been fractured for years.
Butler, who is entering his 14th season, said he’s had a leadership role for a long time.
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14th Year in NBA for Kings small forward Caron Butler
“Just because you’ve been in so many different environments, you know how to play, you know how to adapt to systems and stuff like that,” said Butler, who’s playing for his ninth NBA team. “And when you play for so long, you have so much insight into the game, and (I’m) playing with young guys now, so that’s the role that you have to take so you can give them information and help them.”
Butler’s influence on the Kings won’t be measured simply by statistics. He’s not on the team to outscore Rudy Gay or set up Rajon Rondo.
Butler’s ability to mentor young players like guard Ben McLemore and relay to them the level of work former teammates Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade put in is just as valuable.
Butler understands part of his job also is to help police the Kings’ locker room and add professionalism.
“Combination of that and be ready to play, contribute when I’m called upon,” Butler said. “I know the preseason accolades don’t really matter. It’s all about getting yourself ready and in condition for the season. That’s how I look at it.”
Butler has been an All-Star and won an NBA championship in 2011 with Dallas. He’s played with some of the game’s best players, including Bryant, Wade, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Paul.
So in addition to being a leader, he’s been around great leaders.
9 NBA teams on which Butler has played
“Some people have a positive energy and a karma of leadership you can feel,” said Kings coach George Karl. “They don’t have to say a lot of words, but their presence when they walk in a room, you feel it. And I think Caron is one of those guys and is even more dignified when he speaks because he has that voice that makes people listen.”
It hasn’t taken long for Sacramento players to recognize Butler’s insight. The phrase “C.B. said” already has been coming up among some of the younger players when discussing the season.
“And so far, so good,” Butler said. “They’re receiving the message and showing a lot of love and support. We’re just starting to get more and more familiar with one another.”
Roster cuts – With one preseason game remaining on Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, the Kings made their first cuts.
Guard Marshall Henderson and forward Vince Hunter were released, the team announced. Both Henderson and Hunter played two minutes Tuesday night against the Lakers in Las Vegas.
That brings the roster to 15 players – 13 with guaranteed contracts. NBA teams are allowed to carry 13 active and two inactive players.
Second-year forward Eric Moreland, coming off a strong showing against the Lakers, remains on the roster. The Kings cut Moreland after summer league to keep his deal from becoming guaranteed in August but re-signed him for training camp. If he’s not waived, Moreland will have the 14th guaranteed deal.