RACINE, Wis. (AP) — Caron Butler is expected to provide more than points for a retooled Milwaukee Bucks team that is firmly committed to a young nucleus.
Butler was introduced Thursday as a member of the Bucks at a hometown news conference with family, friend and students at Racine Park High School, where he played.
"We talked about trying to build a championship-caliber team and we're really excited about some of the young pieces we have on our roster," Bucks general manager John Hammond said. "And, we're not going to stray from that. But, also at that time, we talked about needing veteran players that can help us in that process. A veteran player that can mentor, a veteran player that can help young guys. We know Caron can do that.
"But, make no mistake, he's here for a lot more than just that. We need him on the floor. We project him to be our starting small forward, project him to play a lot of minutes for our team, project him to help us win games."
The Bucks acquired the 33-year-old small forward Aug. 29 in a trade with the Phoenix Suns for point guard Ish Smith and center Viacheslav Kravtsov. Butler, who started last season for a Los Angeles Clippers team that won 56 games, was traded to the Suns this summer in a three-way deal that also involved the Bucks.
Butler, a two-time All-Star who has averaged 15. 5 points over his career, averaged 10.4 last season with the Clippers.
"I'm a little emotional, definitely, I always am," said Butler, who teared up several times while speaking. "You all have seen my crying at press conferences. But, this is a different emotion now because this is a dream come true. This is something that I always dreamed about and thought about, but I never thought it would happen."
Butler teams with veteran Carlos Delfino, also signed as a free agent this summer, at the small forward spot. The Bucks also have young players in center Larry Sanders, who recently signed a four-year, $44 million extension, and forward John Henson, as well as new point guard in Brandon Knight, acquired from Detroit for Brandon Jennings. They also signed shooting guard O.J. Mayo.
Butler said he is excited to be putting on the uniform of a team he watched as a youngster.
"The team that I grew up watching was Sidney Moncrief and those guys many years ago," said Butler. "And watching on (TV) as they battled the Chicago Bulls and those rivalries. Now, to be in that conference and be out there on that floor wearing a Bucks uniform and having Racine and Milwaukee stand up proud ... that's going to be extremely special."
First-year coach Larry Drew said Butler adds a missing piece to the Bucks' rebuilding puzzle.
"I really felt we had done a really good job up to that point as far as putting this team together," Drew said. "I would say we've done a great job now solidifying that small forward position and getting a guy with this guy's ability."