Opting out right move for RJ?

Posted by Art Garcia

On the surface it appears Richard Jefferson opting out of the last year of his contract for $15.2 million is a major gamble. At least one veteran league observer half-heartedly speculated that RJ won’t make $15.2 million the rest of his career.


While it’s a safe bet Jefferson won’t make that kind of money next season, especially coming off a disappointing year in San Antonio, the small forward could take advantage of a seller’s market. With at least eight teams out there with significant cap room and only so many star players to go around, Jefferson could easily be seen as a safe fallback.

Even after LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer come off the board, there’s going to be money out there to spend and clubs who were shut out of the above.

Remember the $80 million combined Detroit spent last summer on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva? Some team is going to panic — Clippers or Knicks, perhaps — and reach out to RJ to make sure its summer isn’t a total washout.

Jefferson is hardly damaged goods. He just turned 30 this month and even though he averaged just 12.3 points as a bad fit in the Spurs’ system last season, he’s still got a career scoring average of 17.0 and has been reasonably durable. He was productive for so many years in New Jersey and during his Milwaukee stopover, can get out on the break, is considered coachable and doesn’t make waves in the locker room.

Getting back in a running offense with a pass-first point guard, instead of San Antonio’s halfcourt attack built around Tim Duncan and Tony Parker‘s shoot-first mentality, could signal a career rebirth for Jefferson. Maybe that’s worth a contract similar to the five years and nearly $40 million Shawn Marion received from Dallas last summer. Marion didn’t exactly light it up in Miami or Toronto before the Mavericks came calling.

Or maybe the Spurs work out a new contract for a more cap-friendly figure with Jefferson, realizing he’s still probably a better option than anything San Antonio can realistically hope to find on the open market. Jefferson signing a new deal now does protect him from possible salary rollbacks of the next CBA.

In another other year, opting out of such a windfall would seem extremely foolish. Maybe RJ is smarter than the rest of us.


  1. I think RJ should be back with the spur’s, and of course for less money, I think he has lot to prove to himself and to the naysayers. He should be playing like he was on the Nets. I think he can prove all the doubters that he can play good basketball without Jason Kidd. Most people think that he was that good because of J’Kidd (and every player that plays with kid improves, without any question) but RJ can be that good without Kidd. Prove them wrong RJ!

  2. […] Opting out right move for RJ? Posted by Art Garcia On the surface it appears Richard Jefferson opting out of the last year of his contract for $15.2 […] […]

  3. RJR says:

    Bad move finacially. Teams wont offer 15 mill for one year, more like 20 mill for 3yrs. Remember when Stephen Jackson declined the Spurs offer in hopes of getting more money and ended up getting less from Atlanta. Spurs should not go after a vet on the decline like Ray Allen or Paul Pierce.

  4. CBazz says:

    Jefferson to the Cavs in a sign and trade.

  5. Ruggedrum says:

    San Antonio should try to sign Paul Pierce

  6. WG says:

    Spurs cant trade Parker, eventually he’d be a great back up guard after he turns 30-ish. George Hill is playing some great ball and with Jefferson going, A great move for both parties the spurs can look at a Mid-Level exception combo guard.
    The spurs still have Dyess and Blairs progress should be enough for the thinning front-court. They can maybe find a hidden ‘gem” in the free agency for little money! The Spurs are great at finding hidden talent.

    But agreed Jefferson is a fast break player but he is also a slasher/shooter and didn’t deliver what was expected. He did almost single handily mess up San Antonios chances this season. I Feel Jefferson owes it too the Spurs to do a Sign and Trade that both sides would benefit from.

  7. Louie says:

    I think that this is a good move for both parties. Now if San Antonio willing to trade Tony for a couple of good role players and free up some cap money I think that they are in the hunt for one of the big free agents out there. They can definitely offer more to these players with Tim and Manu and out good supporting cast than any of these other teams that are rebuilding. Give it a try RC!

  8. Glenn Remoreras says:

    I hope RJ will sign a cap friendly deal with the Spurs. I am sure his 1 year stint with the Spurs gives him a great chance of better showing next season and years to come. With reports Pop managing his workout personally in SA, I think there is a done deal here…

  9. dmm04 says:

    I think one of the reason for RJ’s decision is simply because he realized he sucked. The Spurs and fans were expected him to be such a big help but he turned out to be disappointment.

    • TN says:

      He is a fast-break player and the Spurs are far from. Should have been able to see that would be a bust ahead of time. He needs to play with an up-tempo team if he wants to start putting up decent #’s again. Teams like the Warriors/Suns might be a good fit. What fast-break player wouldn’t want to run with Steve Nash?

      • dmm04 says:

        Oh I agree with you. I was saying that he realized he sucked with them and probably wouldn’t do too much better if he stayed. I know he can play and with a team that fits his style of play, he can be good.

  10. Dave says:

    I think RJ will be a good fit with the Suns.

  11. […] the uncertainty of an NBA collective bargaining agreement that expires after next season. …Opting out right move for RJ?NBA.com (blog)Richard Jefferson opts out of US$15M final year with Spurs to become free agentThe […]

  12. Johnny says:

    the eto that jefferson used does not get the spurs any signifigant money to spend during free agency, just under the luxury tax threshold.
    but that doesnt mean the spurs wont pull anything out of the magic bag.
    i can see a possible sign and trade deal involving parker for boozer. dont bet on it though.
    what this does do though is allow the spurs to feel more comfortable offering splitter more money.
    also, watch to see if the spurs go after a defensive stopper such a matt barnes or sefolosha.

  13. In my oppinion the story about Jefferson is finished, and we have to look on the market and get some good defensive veteran with mid-level exciption. Ithink the best fit fo us will be Josh Howard, a great defensive player, but he had done some stupid things in his career, but he is good role player, and player like he is we need. The option NO.2 for me is Rasual Butler, great 3-point shooter, great defender, and most important thing he is team player, and he is guy for the biggest targets in next year :D. That is from me my company and I hope that Spurs will be part of this crazy summer, and that Spurs will gets a good player for our franchise 😀

    See you guys (girls) 😀

  14. zzanzabar says:

    San Antonio, wake up! This is the West you are in. No team here can afford to slip even a little, it would be like throwing blood in the water full of sharks. It is a conference where 1st round lottery pickers have winning records for crying out loud. Where teams who don’t make the playoffs in the West would be 4th and 5th seeded in the East (although not this year) Tim Duncan is not getting any younger and the Thunder is (or that’s the way it seems)! Denver, Utah, and the Spurs had better watch it (and make some move) because here come the Thunder, Trail Blazers, and yes even the Clippers.

  15. Jake says:

    I can’t say I’m sorry to see him go.

  16. tony says:

    now that jefferson is gone go get ray allen!!!

  17. Grasse says:

    I’m pretty sure it does nothing really to help the except get them closer to the cap. The Spurs were well maxxed anyway and with the Gino signing it just means if they do a trade etc they are more likely to go into TAX territory

  18. D.Rob.50 says:

    Forget free agentcy spurs fans, even with Jefferson gone we still won’t have any cap room. Best hope is a sign and trade. Personal i like Thabo Sefolosha as a good fit for us. Can’t provide the scoring punch but the thunder use him like we did bruce. With stats like the below there only 1 reason he gets 29mins a game… Good D!

    09-10 OKC 82 82 28.6 0.440 0.313 0.674 0.9 3.8 4.7 1.8 1.2 0.6 1.1 1.9 6.0

    Could give the thunder a great Vet and locker room guy that can provide some bench scoring.

    I would like to see if jefferson stay in SA, i think they could make it work. Heck if manu can come off the bench and still score 20 a night then pop can find a way to use jefferson better. It’s not always the players fault, Pop knew what he was getting.

  19. alliver says:

    He did not impress the fans and basically was a bust.,he needs to pack his bags and leave..maybe to the pistons..

  20. Stile Smith says:

    You can’t compare Richard Jefferson to Shawn Marion. Even if their offensive numbers are similar, Marion does a whole lot more defensively.

  21. ryan says:

    what does this mean for the spurs in terms of money available to pursue free agents?

  22. Interesting insight, and I think that you are spot on

  23. Toby says:

    now that RJ is gone do you think the San Antonio Spurs will sign big name free agent or mid free agent?