Suns trade Caron Butler to Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks have acquired two-time All-Star forward Caron Butler (6-7, 228) from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for guard Ish Smith (6-0, 175) and center Viacheslav Kravtsov (7-0, 260), General Manager John Hammond announced today.

“We’re very excited to welcome Caron back home,” said Hammond. “He is an accomplished veteran player who started 78 games last season for a 56-win team in Los Angeles. Caron gives us depth at the small forward position and will be a mentor for our younger players.”

According to the Associated Press, “The Suns acquired Butler and point guard Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers on July 10 in a three-team trade that sent the Suns’ Jared Dudley and Milwaukee’s J.J. Redick to Los Angeles. Milwaukee got two second-round draft picks in the deal. Butler signed a three-year, $24 million contract with the Clippers in December of 2011. A starter for the Clippers the last two seasons, Butler has averaged 15.5 points in stops that included Miami, the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington, Dallas and the Clippers.”

According to ESPN.com (on Butler), “the 33-year-old has since been working out in Phoenix and was a featured player at the podium when the Suns recently unveiled a new uniform design. Sources, however, say McDonough has consented to allow Butler to realize a lifelong dream of playing for Milwaukee with the trade. The Bucks signed Carlos Delfino earlier in the summer but are said to covet another small forward as he recovers from foot surgery. Butler’s arrival will ensure new coach Larry Drew has a veteran to start the season at the 3-spot as opposed to relying on youngsters Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo.”

An 11-year professional, Butler played in 78 games (all starts) last season for the Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 24.1 minutes per game, while connecting on 38.8 percent (128-330) of his 3-point attempts. For his career, Butler has averaged 15.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. He has played 730 NBA regular season games (697 starts) with five teams including Miami, the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington, Dallas and the Los Angeles Clippers. His best statistical season came in 2007-08 when he averaged 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists while shooting 46.6 percent from the field and 90.1 percent from the free throw line in 58 games for Washington.

Butler, 33, has averaged double figures in scoring in 10 of his 11 NBA campaigns and reached the postseason on six occasions, including winning an NBA Championship with Dallas in 2011. He was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team twice (2007, 2008), but did not play in 2008 due to injury.

Originally selected by Miami with the 10th overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, Butler played collegiately at UConn where he was named to The Sporting News All-America Second Team as a sophomore. He played high school basketball at Racine Park and later at Maine Central Institute, and his uniform numbers 54 and 25, respectively, have been retired by both schools.

“We would like to thank Caron for his professionalism and wish him the best with the Milwaukee Bucks,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. “This deal gives us significant cap space as well as the flexibility to trade for another exciting player, which is how we were able to acquire Eric Bledsoe. It also provides us with two young players in our efforts to build a team capable of sustainable success.”

Kravtsov, a 6-11, 254-pound center, played five seasons professionally in his native Ukraine before signing with the Detroit Pistons last summer. Kravtsov joins his countryman and 2013 first-round draft pick Alex Len, giving Phoenix both of the only two Ukrainians currently on an NBA roster.

A rookie in 2012-13 with Detroit, Kravtsov played in 25 contests and improved over the course of the season, making 17 of those appearances after the All-Star break including his first career double-double effort. Earlier this summer, he played on the Pistons summer league squad in Orlando and averaged 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting 54.5 percent (6-11) from the field in two games. Kravtsov was dealt to the Bucks on July 31 as part of the trade that sent Brandon Jennings to Detroit.

Smith, a three-year NBA veteran with five teams, played in a career-high 52 games in 2012-13; the first 36 with the Orlando Magic before being traded to the Bucks where he played in 16 games, in addition to appearing in each of Milwaukee’s four playoff contests against the Miami Heat.

A four-year collegiate performer at Wake Forest University, Smith finished his career ranked second all-time among Demon Deacons in assists with 612 and became the first player in program history to post over 1,000 points and 600 assists. As a senior, he averaged 13.2 points, 6.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals to earn Second Team All-ACC honors.