HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU — Back on Dec. 7, a report hit the twitterverse that the Spurs had decided to use the amnesty clause to waive Richard Jefferson.
That was nine days ago. And with the deadline to use the amnesty clause (for this offseason) coming at midnight Friday, Jefferson is still a Spur.
The Jefferson story is a strange one. Last summer, he opted out of the final year of his contract, which would have paid him $15.2 million last season. But then the Spurs re-signed him to a new deal worth $39 million over four years. So the idea of them deciding a year later to pay him not to play for them was a little crazy.
When it was first reported that Jefferson would be amnestied, the Spurs were hot in pursuit of Caron Butler, who would have been Jefferson’s replacement. But Butler spurned the Spurs, signing with the L.A. Clippers for more money.
The Spurs were also reportedly interested in Grant Hill, Vince Carter and Josh Howard. But those three all chose to sign elsewhere as well. And now, the free agent options at the wing are slim pickings.
So it looks like Jefferson will remain in San Antonio, which isn’t necessarily a horrible thing for the Spurs. Their payroll will remain above the luxury tax line, but they’ll retain the guy who ranked fifth in 3-point percentage last season.
Gregg Popovich certainly seems fine with keeping the 31-year-old small forward, as Jeff McDonald of the Express-News writes…
Judging by the way his head coach has been raving about him, not to mention the way the free-agent market has been drying up, perhaps Jefferson needn’t lose sleep anyway.
Though Gregg Popovich didn’t go so far as to rule out the prospect of amnesty for ? Jefferson, it certainly sounds as if the coach is preparing to open the season with the 31-year-old small forward still in the fold.
“It’s kind of interesting,” Popovich said. “Everybody’s always asking about amnesty, and I’m always wondering, ‘Why Richard?’ As if we didn’t advance in the playoffs because of Richard.”
Before the collective bargaining agreement was even finalized, there were lists out there of who each team could or should waive via the amnesty clause. So far, it’s only been used six times (James Posey of the Pacers will reportedly be the seventh candidate) …
Cleveland: Baron Davis
Golden State: Charlie Bell
New Jersey: Travis Outlaw
New York: Chauncey Billups
Orlando: Gilbert Arenas
Portland: Brandon Roy
Will Jefferson survive the night? It appears he will. And maybe the only other candidate to be amnestied before tonight’s deadline is the Clippers’ Mo Williams, who is now one of four point guards on his team.
Teams that didn’t use the amnesty clause this week will have the opportunity to use it again next summer. But it can still only be used on players that were already under contract when the new CBA was ratified, and it can’t be used on a player that was acquired via trade since then.