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New Phoenix Sun Caron Butler brings more than leadership

Of the two players the Phoenix Suns are receiving in exchange for Jared Dudley, one has been to a pair of All-Star games.

And of the two players, only one has an NBA Championship ring.

His name is Caron Butler, and supposedly he’s the “throw-in” in the deal that also brought in Eric Bledsoe. Yet, he’s actually so much more.

“You can tell who the veteran is because he’s got the orange tie, he’s got the orange shirt,” Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby mused at the introductory press conference for the two players Thursday. “He’s a pro.”

Fashion sense notwithstanding, the Suns wanted Butler for a variety of reasons, chief among them the leadership he brings to the table.

“I always admired his toughness and professionalism,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough said. “When I was with the Celtics and we had our good runs in the playoffs he was a guy we were constantly trying to acquire.”

Now, a couple years and a different team later, McDonough has finally landed the player with career averages of 15.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

Butler, 33, comes to the Suns following a pair of productive seasons with the Clippers, and he’s entering the third and final year of his contract. Set to make $8 million in 2013-14, he will have to adjust to the challenge that comes with going from a contender to a team that is rebuilding.

It is made easier, Butler said, by the Suns’ desire to land him.

“It was rather flattering to find out that I had a guy that had a man-crush on me for so many years,” he said, smiling. “So once I found that out I was extremely excited about just coming here.”

Noting the transition has been easy, the veteran said his job is to come in and set an example for the younger players — which isn’t really much of a change for him.

“Just continue to do what I always have been doing throughout my career, setting an example on and off the court,” he said. “Arriving to practice early, leaving late, talk to guys about basketball, about life, family, everything.”

Throughout their rebuilding process, which will by some counts be entering year four, the Suns have maintained a desire to have quality veterans on the roster to help guide the younger players. Butler would seem to fit the bill, but his role will likely stretch well beyond essentially being an extra coach or someone to lean on.

While not what he once was, the 6-foot-7, 217-pound Butler averaged 10.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per game last season, while shooting .424 from the field and .388 from three-point range. A small forward, he is joining a team that is not exactly set at the position.

“Just his ability to score in isolation situations,” McDonough said of what Butler can do on the floor. “He can shoot, he can post (up), he’s got good size.

“He’s a veteran scorer, scored a lot of points in this league over the years. So that was one of the things I thought our team was a little bit lacking.”

The hope is Bledsoe well help there; the expectation is Butler will.

After all, he’s done it before.

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