Caron's Pain Runs Deep - So Do Ramifications

"He's a man's man,'' said coach Rick Carlisle of Caron Butler, who justified his "Tuff Juice'' nickname by limping off the floor in the first half of the Mavs' loss at Milwaukee on Saturday with a knee injury that the club is terming "potentially serious.'' But it's not just the pain that may run deep here … it's also the far-ranging ramifications for the player, the team and the franchise.

First, Caron's injury

Butler jumped from the floor in a non-contact play in the first half and reached to grab his right knee before he even landed. He fell to the ground, continuing to clutch his joint while yelling out in pain. From my many views of the replay, it certainly appeared to be a possible dislocated kneecap. In a purely speculative note: Sometimes with that injury comes other knee damage as well.

"To watch a teammate go down on the floor and pound the floor like he was, it's just terrible," said Dirk Nowitzki, who missed the entire game with a sprained knee. "We're all just pulling for him now."

Shawn Marion, who sat out as well with a thigh contusion, send a Twitter message: "We got u, son.''

It was left to Carlisle, though, to frame the circumstances, both at the moment the injury happened to in the postgame review of it.

"We're afraid that it's potentially serious,'' Carlisle said, putting a brave face on this thing. "But we won't know anything until (team Dr. T.O.) Souryal gets a look at it. We'll find out (Sunday) where things are at."

Butler was to remain in his native Wisconsin overnight and then travel to Dallas in the morning, where he will undergo an MRI.

Carlisle seemed to want to make a positive of the fact that Butler left the floor under his own power.

"That's one of the most impressive things I've ever seen in basketball," Carlisle said. "He's a man's man. And we all have an awful lot of respect for him. We're going to hope and pray that it's something he can come back from sooner than later."

That was Rick saying all the right things while trying to keep his composure. But the FS Southwest television cameras caught the coach's naked emotion as he eyed his fallen player. Carlisle's hands were over his mouth. His face was ashen.

The other injuries

The final score here was 99-87 (See DB.com's 'First Impressions' here), meaning a Milwaukee sweep of the season series and a third straight loss for the Mavs this week. If some observers felt justified that this is "a bad basketball team'' when it is just missing Nowitzki … well, they have more fuel if it is missing Nowitzki, Marion and Butler … and if Ian Mahinmi must trot to the locker room for four stitches in his mouth to stop the bleeding of an accidental Bucks elbow … and if Jason Terry is going to continue to make just three baskets a game, an indication that his shot has gone on sick leave.

There will be a manpower shortage again Sunday in Cleveland. Dirk sounds like he'll sit out another – "Hopefully it (his return) will be sometime next week,'' he said. Marion is day-to-day (but will surely try to rub some dirt on it.) Butler's out. Roddy Beaubois isn't even running yet.

It might soon be time to examine ways to add some healthy bodies …

Making moves?

Start with the understanding that two of the Mavs' starters on Saturday weren't even rotation players two months ago. Brian Cardinal is a stopgap 4 playing in place of Dirk. DeShawn Stevenson has done admirable work as a tough-guy 2 who is surprising opponents as one of the NBA's leading 3-point shooters.

So at this point, criticizing Dallas' depth is unfair. … because Dallas is suddenly starting two of the backups' backups. Along with that comes praise for J.J. Barea, who in one week has gone from a Mav most fans wish could be upgraded to the 29-point star of the game in Milwaukee.

Can Dominique Jones help? He's a dominant player one level down in the D-League. How about Joe Alexander, the best player in Frisco? (There's a reason DB.com does its weekly "Down on the Farm Report.'' We take this stuff seriously! And it might be required reading right about now.)

But is a D-League player really going to make a difference?

How about that big trade?

Problem 1: One of the major chips that Dallas would used in a blockbuster (that is, a Carmelo Anthony-sized swap) is Caron Butler … the two-time All-Star player as well as the $10.8-million expiring contract. That option becomes a bit murky now.

Problem 2: To be a true contender, Dallas likely needs someone on the roster who is of Butler's talent level, if not of his style of play. Beaubois can conceivably be all that, but when is his foot going to heal? Mid-January? Early February? When?

Jason Terry has historically been that sort of player. But his erratic shooting this week is concerning.

Kudos to Jason Kidd, who has spent the week ratcheting up his intensity and filling the boxscore … but he's increasingly being exposed when he's asked to create shots for himself.

Kidd was already in his unique place on the totem pole. Ideally, Terry should be slid down the pole, not up it. Asking all these people to "step up'' when they were theoretically already given their all is a silly cliché.

Problem 3: You probably end up considering "smaller trades'' – that is, players who not only are far short of ‘Melo-like, but maybe even are short of being Caron-like … and you will be asked to overpay (by taking on lousy contracts, for instance) to even do that.

Smile

Brace yourselves. What is the cost of Capt. Jack? How much do you pay for Gerald Wallace? Is Iggy out of the question? Ready to settle for a bid on Corey Maggette?

Am I getting too far ahead of myself here?

These aren't things a team executive is prepared to discuss. But they are things that merit discussion in this space and on DB.com Boards. … at least until the time when the MRI comes back and, miraculously, Butler is given a rosy prognosis.

All in all, a painful night. … the pain extending from Caron's knee up to the rest of the team, up to the standings, up to the franchise's hopes and dreams and goals.


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