Butler jockeying to return to Wizards lineup vs. Cavs
Posted: Sunday April 22, 2007 6:37PM; Updated: Sunday April 22, 2007 6:50PM
The buzz in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon was not limited to the Cavaliers second consecutive playoff appearance.
While Cleveland, behind a combined 50 points by LeBron James and Larry Hughes, handily defeated Washington, speculation was injured Wizards forward Caron Butler could be planning a Willis Reed-esque return to the Washington lineup, possibly as early as Saturday's Game 3. Butler has been out of the lineup since April 1 when he broke the second metacarpal in his right hand bending his index finger back against a backboard while challenging a shot by Milwaukee's Ruben Patterson and is still wearing a cast to protect the injured hand.
The Wizards were the ideal first-round opponenet for teams jockeying for position down the stretch, as teams salivated over the prospect of facing a depleted Wizards team. One Cavaliers team source went as far to refer to a first round matchup with Washington, who Cleveland ousted in the playoffs last season, as a "best case scenario."
Washington has sorely missed Butler's 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds as well as his trademark tenacity and courage around the rim, attributes that make a player like Butler a valuable asset in the postseason.
At the time it was reported that Butler would not return at all this season, but in recent weeks the 6-foot-7 forward has talked about returning for the second round of the playoffs and in the last few days he has campaigned openly for a return against the Cavaliers.
Butler has been using a "bone-healing machine" that he attaches to his right hand, a device he says "sends waves to the bone and helps it heal faster."
Do not, however, count on an early return. According to a league source with knowledge of Butler's injury, the sight of Butler in a Washington uniform this series is "unrealistic." Butler has missed just three weeks with an injury that usually takes at least six weeks to heal and the Wizards are unlikely to risk the future of their starting small forward by rushing him back too soon.
In all likelihood, the next time Butler will wear a Wizards uniform will be in training camp.