Caron Butler rumors: Heat, Thunder in lead

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks have agreed to release the former All-Star, leaving him free to sign with a contender

The Milwaukee Bucks and forward Caron Butler have come to a buyout agreement and the 33-year-old is now free to sign wherever he chooses, the team announced on Thursday. Oklahoma City and Miami are said to be the frontrunners to land the former All-Star, with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs also in the chase, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

Butler has been in and out of the lineup for the Bucks, averaging 11 points and 4.6 rebounds while shooting just 38.7 percent from the floor in 24 minutes per night. That all said, he's the kind of veteran backup piece that contenders are chasing at this time of the season. Butler can provide depth and veteran intelligence for any team looking for help in either capacity and he's relatively healthy, especially considering the other options.

The Thunder have all but stopped their pursuit of another available small forward, Danny Granger, which has led NBA folks to believe they are confident they'll be able to secure Butler, according to Wojnarowski. With lingering concerns over the long-term health of Granger's knees, Butler might be the top free agent on the market at the moment and he's garnering plenty of interest.

Despite his poor field-goal percentage, Butler has actually been solid from three — 36.1 percent in 2013-14 — and has long been a strong rebounder for his position. He would be a boost to any team that signs him before the stretch run, however minor.

In Milwaukee's statement, general manager John Hammond said Butler had handled himself with class and professionalism, and the Racine, Wis. native thanked the team:

"It's been a dream come true to wear the Milwaukee uniform which so many of my idols growing up wore," Butler said. "I'd like to thank Sen. Herb Kohl, John Hammond and Larry Drew for the opportunity to live out my dream of playing for the Bucks. The entire organization has treated me and my family in a first-class manner that we will never forget. I would be remiss if I didn't also thank the great fans of Milwaukee, Racine and the entire state of Wisconsin for always standing with us during a challenging season. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart."

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