From David Fizdale to Juwan Howard to Dan Craig, the Miami Heat’s long-list of recent assistant coaches have almost all received higher-level jobs at other franchises or collegiate programs for a reason.
Whether it be their relationship with the players, knowledge of the game or an overall understanding of what’s needed to reach the ultimate goal, there’s simply something about Erik Spoelstra’s staff that stands out amongst others.
This time around, they’re hoping it’ll be the same case with Caron Butler.
Butler, 40, was officially introduced as the Heat’s new assistant coach Saturday, joining Chris Quinn, Anthony Carter and Malik Allen as the fourth former NBA player to join Spoelstra’s coaching group.
The 14-year veteran played was drafted by the Heat in 2002, playing two seasons before being shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 in a deal that involved Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a first-round pick for Shaquille O’Neal.
Along with those franchises, Butler spent a part of his career with the Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons and Sacramento Kings. He ultimately retired in 2018.
He spent his post-basketball career as an analyst for multiple stations, including NBA TV. Now, he looks to pursue a profession in something he holds zero experience at.
“Caron has a remarkable personal story and is someone who is universally respected throughout the NBA for his character, dedication and work ethic,” Spoelstra said in a statement released by the Heat. “He brings a mental toughness and nearly 20 years of experience in the NBA as a player, broadcaster and media member that will make him a valuable asset to our coaching staff and players. Most importantly, he has Miami Heat DNA having started this journey with us and we are excited to welcome him back home.”
Butler holds deer respect from numerous players, including one of his former teammates.
“It’s something that Coach Spo talked about, somebody I had as a mentor early on,” Heat forward Udonis Haslem said on Butler. “Not that they needed my blessing, but it was somebody who brought me under his wing.
“They talk about OGs, Caron Butler, it sounds crazy because of how young he is but he was my OG. When I came into this organization, Caron Butler was somebody, even though I was from Miami born and raised, he was somebody who showed me what it was to be a professional. Not just a professional, but a professional for the Miami Heat.”
In a team like the Heat where the usage of veterans on and off the court – Haslem, Andre Iguodala, Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Solomon Hill Allen, Quinn, Carter – was vital, adding Butler as a replacement to Craig, who took a job with the Los Angeles Clippers in late October, is as good as it gets.
It’s only a matter of time until his impact is felt.
From day one, I’m going to be invested,” he told the Sun Sentinel. “I’m invested right now, watching film, going over the draft choices. And December 1st, I’m all in.”