Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 10/9/11
MIAMI It took some prodding. But count forward Caron Butler as a candidate to return to the Miami Heat. Butler, a two-time All-Star working his way back from a season-ending knee injury suffered in January, will be an unrestricted free agent whenever the NBA lockout ends. It wouldn't be a surprise if Miami, where Butler broke into the NBA and played from 2002-04, took a look at him. "It'd be interesting," Butler said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida about the prospect of returning to the Heat. Asked whether Miami is on his list, Butler eventually said, "Yes." But he didn't want to talk too much about the Heat, which is understandable. Butler, 31, remains loyal to Dallas, which wants him back after a season in which Butler went down with a ruptured right patellar tendon Jan. 1 and could only watch as the Mavericks beat the Heat for the NBA title last June. And he has no idea what the new rules might be in the NBA. "I love Dallas, what that organization, the fans, what they did for me when I went down and got injured," said Butler, who went scoreless in 12 minutes in the South Florida All-Star Classic on Saturday night, an event put on at Florida International University by Heat stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. "They supported me and stood by my side. Winning a championship there and being part of that there, that's always special. So I just don't know what it's going to end up like. You got to see how stuff is structured with the new deal, the new collective bargaining agreement." Butler said Mavericks officials told him before the lockout started July 1 they want to re-sign him. But it's unclear what type of salary Butler, who made 10.56 million last season, might be able to command. "They definitely told me they wanted me back," Butler said. "I'm grateful for the organization. We'll see what happens. I love Dallas. I like a lot of other places. But I really love Dallas." So where else does Butler like? "That's pretty much it," Butler said of not wanting to mention any teams other than Dallas and Miami. "I don't want to throw no (other) teams out there. But I am open to any suggestions." Perhaps Wade, who played with Butler with the Heat in 2003-04, will suggest Butler might want to return to Miami once free agency gets under way. "Me and Dwyane, we always talk about a lot of things. So anything can happen," said Butler, who said the two have yet to talk about the forward's free agency. Butler averaged 15.4 points as a rookie with the Heat in 2002-03 before slumping to 9.2 when Wade arrived in 2003-04. But after being traded to the Lakers in 2004 and moving on to Washington in 2005, Butler played in All-Star games in 2007 and 2008. Butler, who has a career average of 16.6 points per game, landed in Dallas in February 2010. He was averaging 15 points before crashing to the floor with his season-ending injury at Milwaukee, which is just north of his hometown of Racine, Wis. "Good," Butler said of how his knee feels, later calling it "100" percent. "Ready to play. Anxious to play." It's just not clear with which team yet.
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