Lifetime Bonehead Award
Ricky Davis, Cavaliers. One rebound shy of a triple double, against the Jazz on March 16, Davis tried to get it by retrieving his own intentional miss—at the wrong basket.
Vin Baker, Celtics. Sending Kenny Anderson to the Sonics was a horrible trade for Boston even before Baker (5.2 points per game, $56.3 million guaranteed through 2005-06) left the team on Feb. 27 to "address personal issues."
Reality Bites Award
Michael Jordan, Wizards. No matter that he averaged 20 points at age 40, Jordan missed the playoffs for the second straight season since coming back. Whichever team he runs next year—the Wizards or the expansion team in Charlotte-expect MJ to gamble less on young and un-proven talent.
Eric Musselman, Warriors. The youngest coach in the league at 38, Musselman breathed life into Golden State, which finished second to the Mavericks in scoring while making a run at the postseason.
Clippers. By refusing to re-sign any of his free agents last summer, owner Donald Sterling removed any hope of cohesion on a team with enough talent to advance a round or two in the playoffs.
Worst Performance in a Nonplaying Role
Qyntel Woods, Trail Blazers. Portland police say that Woods, a rookie forward, was pulled over last month for driving 83 mph in a 55-mph zone and was asked to show his license. Woods, whose license had been revoked, instead handed over two credit cards and his basketball trading card. When police found a small amount of marijuana in the car, Woods said that he had been smoking pot for three years and had tried to quit but was "addicted."
Miami's Caron Butler
Proving to Be a Worthy Choice in the Draft
Heat forward Caron Butler won't be named Rookie of the Year, even though he led his class in scoring (15.5 points per game) and steals (1.78) at week's end. He also became only the third rookie to start for coach Pat Riley on opening night, joining James Worthy and Sasha Danilovic. "He reminds me of James," says Riley, "from the way he's come in and played right away, to his demeanor."
A comparison of more recent vintage would be the Celtics' Paul Pierce, a swing-man who tumbled in the draft only to emerge as a star. Rated in the top five on most pre-draft lists, Butler came out from UConn as a sophomore and lasted until the 10th pick. The day after the draft he arrived in Miami and began working out six days a week. "What happened in the draft drove me," says the 6'7", 216-pound Buder. "It gave me an extra edge to start so early and work so hard."
Butler has run through the rookie wall as if it were made of paper; he averaged 20.1 points in March and led the Heat in scoring for eight straight games. He has proved to be a strong finisher and a decent rebounder (5.1 per game) capable of taking the ball baseline to baseline on the break. With $7 million of cap space this summer, Riley hopes that a key free-agent signing and Butler's growth—especially as a defender—will lift the Heat into the playoffs next season. "The losing has been hard," Butler says, "but I've been learning so much."