Caron Butler thinks Mavs will keep him

DALLAS -- As Caron Butler pedaled through a 30-minute session on the stationary bike Tuesday while his Dallas Mavericks teammates practiced in front of him, he delighted in the fact that he is pain-free six weeks after surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee.

Which made reiterating his belief that he'll be ready for the playoffs seem even easier. And this time he tossed in an addendum -- he'll do so as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.

The NBA trade deadline is bearing down on Feb. 24 and Butler's expiring $10.8 million contract is potentially attractive in a trade to teams eager to shed salary. Still, Butler believes owner Mark Cuban will not only hold onto him for the remainder of the season, but will re-sign him as a free agent in the offseason.

"I really do. That's just how I feel," Butler said. "I think everything is meant to happen for a reason and I just see myself playing with Dallas this playoffs and for years to come. I just see that. I think it's a perfect marriage."

Butler said his immediate focus is not on the encroaching trade deadline, but the postseason that is approximately two months away.

"That's my goal and it was a realistic goal and it still is," Butler said. "Once I set my mind on something and it's something I want to accomplish, it's kind of hard to tell me that I'm not going be able to do that. Like I said, I'm trying to come back for the playoffs."

It's why Butler is following a self-prescribed seven-day-a-week rehab schedule. He has been a constant fixture at American Airlines Center where he works out five days a week with team athletic trainers.

He hit a milestone Tuesday with his first stint on the underwater treadmill. It was the first time since he sustained the injury on New Year's Day in Milwaukee that Butler has moved his right leg in a jogging motion.

Afterward he hit the stationary bike and then moved onto Texas Sports Medicine, where Mavs team doctor T.O. Souryal performed the surgery on Jan. 4, for his 27th session inside the hyperbaric chamber.

"I knew I would be mobile because that's just the mentality I have because it's pain-tolerance and stuff like that," Butler said. "But, to be mobile like this with no pain? No, I didn't think that. There's no pain, no swelling, so I'm like so happy right now."

On the days he doesn't work out at the team's facility at the AAC, he rehabs on his own at home.

"To be honest, with the team I rehab five days a week and I don't take any days off, so I rehab on weekends by myself," Butler said. "I know sometimes they say too much is too much and you have to give your body a chance to rest, but I've just been attacking. I've been letting the doctors know what I've been doing. As long as you can tolerate it with no swelling and no fatigue, continue to do what you're doing."

And Butler firmly believes that after Feb. 24 he will continue his rehab and then play in the postseason as a member of the Mavericks.

"It's a nice, sizable expiring contract, but to get a guy that's definitely coming back healthy -- that's not an issue -- an All-Star-caliber player, it's tough all the way around," Butler said. "They've got to look at everything, but I think it's the perfect fit for me."

Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.