Caron Butler not cleared but still optimistic

MIAMI – Caron Butler not only hopes that he can play in the NBA Finals, but he’s confident he could pick up where he left off before rupturing his right patellar tendon on New Year’s Day.

“I’d be myself,” Butler said. “I’d be myself out there – a guy that can create, do some things on the low post, obviously just make other guys better.”

Unfortunately, the Mavs’ medical staff doesn’t share Butler’s optimism.

Butler still hasn’t been cleared for contact. Coach Rick Carlisle continues to say that it’s “unlikely” that Butler will play in the Finals, although Carlisle adds that he wouldn’t bet against the small forward.

The Mavs’ playoff run has been a bittersweet experience for Butler. He’s proud of his teammates and has been touched by them dedicating the postseason to him. But Butler is an intense competitor with a burning desire to contribute less than five months after suffering a serious injury and undergoing surgery.

“I know how to put things in perspective and just understand that, no matter what I do, I still have to be cleared,” said Butler, who spent the weekend in Washington, D.C. to be with his grandmother after she had a kidney transplant. “It’s frustrating, and it’s not like AAU. It’s not like [I can just say], ‘I can give it a shot.’ It’s one of those things where there’s a chain of command. You’ve got to go through the right people to get cleared.

“I’ve just got to continue to work hard and pray for the best.”