Caron Butler pushing; playoffs uncertain

DALLAS -- Caron Butler joined his teammates on the court Thursday morning for the halfcourt shooting contest that's become a ritual at the end of every shootaround. Wearing a sleeve over his surgically-repaired right knee, Butler can't do much more than sort of hobble about and hoist jumpers, but even that is significant progress with the playoffs a little more than three weeks away.

"I'm pushing hard," Butler said. "I'm definitely trying to get back. I'm feeling good, just pushing."

Butler isn't doing any team activities. He remains in a full rehab situation that now includes running on the treadmill, increased weight training, shooting jumpers.

As for returning for the playoffs, that will just have to wait. It was always deemed a bit unrealistic to think Butler would be ready for the first round in mid-April. An early May scenario for the potential second-round series is more plausible, but still not something Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has on his radar.

"He's working his ass off," Carlisle said. "We'll see. He's just going to keep going. He's going to stay aggressive with it and we'll see what's what when time comes."