USA TODAY – Caron Butler hopes to add veteran leadership to Kings


The Sacramento Kings are preparing for the upcoming NBA season with a lot of question marks surrounding the team.

Will superstar center DeMarcus Cousins and coachGeorge Karl continue to butt heads throughout the season?

Will adding point guard Rajon Rondo — fresh from his disaster season in Dallas — stir up the pot even more?

Or, will they be able to incorporate all of the talent on their roster to have their first 30-plus win season since 2008?

The Rondo move was one of a few changes to the roster the Kings made in the offseason. Marco Belinelli, Kosta Koufos, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Caron Butler are new faces as well. Belinelli adds shooting, Koufas is a nice defender, Cauley-Stein is an athletic big who will help Cousins inside.

And then, there’s Butler. The veteran small forward has been on eight other teams in his career and comes to Sacramento as a 35-year-old, bringing something that most other people on the roster can’t.

He’s an NBA champion (2011), two-time All-Star (2007-2008), and has averaged 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, while shooting 43.4% from the field.

But, that’s not what will make an impact on the Kings. On this team—at this point in his career—it’s not about the statistics, the achievements, or the history. It’s about making his mark on a team that so desperately needs a veteran presence.

“Off general principle, you get a certain respect for being around for so long and guys just respect you,” Butler said. “But at the same time, you gradually come to the position to address issues vocally. I’m more of a guy that likes pulling guys to the side to just talk to them one on one and educate them.”

Remembering that he was once a young guy in the league, Butler credits a lot of players from his lengthy career as mentors that taught him valuable lessons over the years.

“Alonzo Mourning, Brian Grant, Eddie Jones, Kobe [Bryant]. I had a lot of good veteran guys that always just talked to me about basketball and just about life,” Butler said.

As far as the spirit in the Sacramento locker room goes, things may be looking up.

“We decided to have a dinner in Las Vegas with our owner, Vlade Divac, Peja [Stojakovic]; everyone showed up except for two guys that are on the current roster,” Butler said.

Cousins was one of the many players in attendance.

Over the course of the dinner, the team and former players focused on setting the tone early before the season began.

“We talked about roles and accepting roles and how we would police ourselves in a situation, because there’s only so much that a coach can do. We place it upon ourselves just to be honest with one another,” Butler continued. “I’m going to tell you what I think. What’s best for all of us, not just you. The importance of being selfless, we talk about that all the time.”

With training camp starting Sept. 28, Butler placed importance on the team having “some type of foundation early, instead of just going into this thing and everybody trying to put it together on the fly.”

Although only time will be able to answer some of the questions that are still looming in Sacramento, you can look for Butler to make a substantial impact on this team, both on and off the floor.