UPDATE (10:45 p.m.): ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Ramona Shelbourne are reporting that the deal will be finalized tomorrow:
Lotta chatter in circulation Tuesday night to suggest Heat in pole position for Caron Butler ... with Spurs/Clips dueling for Danny Granger— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 26, 2014
Update (10:00 p.m.): David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com is also reporting that the buyout is getting closer to being finished.
Bucks, Caron Butler near buyout, per source. Many around league think Heat likely destination. Spurs, Thunder also exploring.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 26, 2014
Bucks and Raymond Brothers, agent for Caron Butler, in discussions to buy out Butler's contract.— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) February 25, 2014
The Racine native had also been the subject of trade rumors ahead of last week's deadline, as his homecoming season Milwaukee has not gone as swimmingly as expected. Butler is in the final year of the three-year, $24 million deal he signed with the Clippers in 2011 and has a cap number of $8 million this season.
Butler was expected to be an on- and off-court leader for the rebuilding Bucks, but a putrid start to the year combined with a handful of injuries and the emergence of younger positional options in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton have mostly left Butler on the outside looking in. He saw his minutes fluctuate more than he would have liked as the season's scales started to tip more and more towards a rebuild, and it became increasingly likely that Butler would prefer a chance to chase another ring in the twilight years of his career rather than stick around for a historically bad season in Milwaukee. Alas, here we are.
Butler must reach a buyout agreement with the Bucks by March 1 in order to remain playoff-eligible for a potential new team--though he can wait until after that date to actually sign a contract. Assuming the deadline is met and after a few formalities which are detailed here are settled upon, Butler is free to sign with whomever desires his services up until the end of the season. There has been speculation that San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and Miami might have interest in Butler.
Though there isn't a pressing need to pull this move off from a Bucks' perspective, it would give Milwaukee an open roster spot to experiment with while continuing to play younger players like Giannis and Middleton. Whether the Bucks would do anything with that roster spot is anyone's guess--their options are fairly limited outside of taking a flier on a D-Leaguer--but gaining a little more flexibility while accommodating Butler's desire to find a contender to latch on with might be appealing enough.