At the end of the day, Jason Terry couldn't say no to James Harden, despite the fact he could have gotten more money from the Pelicans. Hey, it does make for a nice story. A lot better than say "I'm going to roll with the Rockets because next season could very well be my last. I've made over $100 million dollars in my career and they likely have the stronger odds of winning the 2016 NBA Championship."
Regardless of motive, Terry is off the radar so let's consider the next option. The Pelicans should have 13 guaranteed contracts by the time Norris Cole finally signs on the dotted line. Normally, the roster has consisted of at least 14 players at the start of recent regular seasons; thus, Dell Demps' free agency work isn't finished.
While there exists some chance Bryce DeJean-Jones could become number fourteen if he impresses in the exhibition season, it's not likely. Moreover, it's apparent Demps is interested in a veteran shooter, one who doesn't shy away from the moment. DeJean-Jones is all shades of green, even if opens the regular season with the Pelicans.
So, is there any perimeter player worth taking a stab on from the small pile of slim pickings?
Maybe our old friend Willie Green? After all, it could be argued he is familiar with Alvin Gentry after having shared the same locker room with him in 2013-14 while with the Los Angeles Clippers. The problem, though, is his shot. Sure, he had several seasons where he eclipsed well over 40% from the three-point line, but that was three years ago. And whenever he's ended up in the playoffs, he's usually shown to be more reluctant to hoist the jumper, let alone make them.
Perhaps Ben Gordon? Veteran, check. Shooter, check. Wait, what's that he's trying to bring through the door? Ahh, loads of baggage. After clashing in both Detroit and Charlotte, simply put, Demps will not be interested. Although I'm sure our general manager is proud as hell of the team's talent level, he's probably happier about the individuals and their attitudes that have come together to form a cohesive locker room -- no way will a potential bad egg be brought into the fold.
A couple of other potential names have removed themselves from consideration in the past week as Dorell Wright decided to go play in China while J.R. Smith took a pay cut to stay in Cleveland. Although I'm a little surprised Wright wasn't able to find a job in the NBA, it's fantastic news Smith is off the list. Do. Not. Want.
As we near the bottom of the barrel, there remains one name that should be getting a little more attention. Rasual Butler, the same player who has already spent 4 years of his career, his longest stretch, affiliated with the New Orleans franchise.
There is no doubt Butler is near the end of his career; in fact, he was almost forced to quit for good several years ago when no team presented him an offer for the 2012-13 season. However, he persevered. He went on to spend the season in the D-League and averaged 17.8 points and 5.1 rebounds for the Tulsa 66ers. Later, he attended the 2013 Orlando Summer League with the Pacers as a 34-year-old. Although he averaged only 13.8 minutes, Indiana signed him to a minimum one year deal.
That contract ended up being beneficial for both parties as Butler would go on to appear in 50 games and display an effectiveness from nearly any spot on the perimeter. His play led to a camp invite with the Washington Wizards last season, and when Bradley Beal fractured his wrist and Martell Webster never proved to be right, Butler was given a shot and seized the moment. As a matter of fact, the Wizards decided to guarantee his contract and keep him over Glen Rice Jr, the 2014 Summer League MVP.
Thanks to this offseason's free agent signings of Jared Dudley and Alan Anderson and drafting Kelly Oubre Jr., the Wizards have no further use for Butler's services. Especially not with Otto Porter showing he's likely ready for a larger role.
Getting squeezed out of Washington could be New Orleans gain. As I stated earlier, Dell Demps is not only looking for a good outside shooter, but also a veteran who will fit seamlessly with the existing personnel. Butler could be that guy. Have a look at what several of his past coaches have said about him. First, Erik Spoelstra:
"You have nothing but respect for Rasual Butler," Miami Heat coach
Erik Spoelstrasaid. "We had him when he was very young. He is an absolute pro. You root for guys like that, and there is a reason why he has been in the league for so long."
Next, Tom Thibodeau:
"I think it’s the perfect fit for him and he’s a great pro," Thibodeau said after Bulls shoot-around Friday morning. "He’s a guy who plays year-round and stays in great shape. And I think when you look at what John [Wall] does and you look at what Andre Miller does, he’s the perfect fit because he creates space and his career says how well he can shoot the three. But to be doing it at this stage of his career is a real credit to him. But we always felt strongly about his professionalism, his attitude, how much he loved he game. And the shooting part, that’s never going to go away."
Thib's isn't kidding about the year-round dedication part. In glancing at Butler's Instagram account, he has posted several videos of working in the gym and keeping his shot in peak form. In a recent three-part shooting exhibition, he goes on to make 10 of 11 shots from the corner 3, a spot on the floor that Alvin Gentry plans on utilizing fully.
Rasual Butler will be entering his age-36 season, but he appears to still have enough in the tank to give the Pelicans an additional outside presence that Demps has been searching for the last few years. As evidenced by the interest in Jason Terry, the Pelicans are not looking for upside, a 2-way player or even a major component of the rotation. Rather, just a player who will be more dependable than say either John Salmons or Jimmer Fredette. A professional whose number will not be called every night, but one who will be ready to play and perform adequately as needed.