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Caron Butler Thinks He Can Return For The Playoffs

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Jeff Caplan reports that Caron Butler thinks he only needs four months to return form his torn patellar tendon and that he will be fine to return in time for the playoffs. 

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"I know what muscles to keep fired, what little things to do," Butler said. "I just need some time. I've been through this before when I was 15 years old and it took about 4.5 months to come back from, and I was rolling. I was good. I was healthy. So I just need some time."

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Butler's spirit is admirable, but I see several problems here. First, as Caplan notes, four months is the extreme low end of a typical recovery time for this surgery. Second, Butler will be 31 in March. Thirty-one-year-olds don't recover like 15-year-olds, and he was a couple of weeks short even then, by his own admission. Third, he likely won't have four full months if he actually wants to contribute in the playoffs. He underwent his surgery on January 4. The Mavericks season ends on April 13. If Butler does in fact return to action four months after his surgery, and if Dallas is still playing, the Mavericks would likely be midway through their second round series.

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Butler has played well this season, after getting himself into much improved shape over the offseason. He likely won't be able to maintain that kind of condition, and he'll need a bit of time to get into real basketball shape anyway - right in the middle of a playoff series. 

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Butler also has to think about his future. He's a free agent after the season, and an early return could jeopardize his hopes of landing another big contract. Likewise, the Mavericks could find his expiring contract more valuable in a deadline trade than the prospect of re-signing him in the summer.

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It's a nice thought, but Butler almost certainly won't be anything more than a nice little boost if the team somehow makes the conference or league finals.

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Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.