Butler Happy to Land with Wizards

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Byline: John N. Mitchell, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

RICHMOND - Ask Caron Butler if he ever thought the term "well-traveled" would precede his name so early in his career, and he smiles.

"No, I didn't," said Butler, 25. "But I can say I'm happy that the route has taken me here."

"Here" is with the Washington Wizards, not the Los Angeles Lakers, where he spent last season as Kobe Bryant's understudy. Nor is it Miami, which drafted the 6-foot-7 swingman with the 10th pick in 2002.

Butler was among 17 players on hand yesterday as training camp opened at Virginia Commonwealth University. Camp runs through Sunday.

Early last week, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said Butler would immediately become a part of the Wizards "core group of scorers." Butler, who last season averaged 15.5 points, is genuinely excited about landing in Washington. And though he is expected to fill the void created by Larry Hughes' summer departure to Cleveland via free agency, Butler is not concerned with that now.

"I look at the situation in Washington, and it's clear to me that there are a lot of areas where I can help," said Butler, who averaged nearly 22 points in his final 15 games in Los Angeles last season.

Losing Hughes created a huge void on the defensive end, particularly in the passing lanes. Hughes, who averaged 22 points last season, led the league in steals (2.89).Though nobody expects Butler to match Hughes in thefts, president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld and Jordan believe Butler's addition - plus those of guards Antonio Daniels and Chucky Atkins - make this team deeper and more versatile than last year's 45-37 squad, which posted the franchise's best record in 26 seasons and won the organization's first playoff series in 23 years.

Jordan envisions Butler playing at least three positions compared with the roles Hughes filled at both guard spots.

"You can see the things he brings to the floor," Jordan said. …