The Curious Case Of R.J. & The Spurs

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.


  1. NBAer says:

    Truth to be told, RJ didnt do what was expected from him… for two years. He wasnt paid to be the 4th man behind Tim, Manu and TP. He is supposed to take over games so the three vets won’t have to be the Spurs’ Big Three (well, not until the playoffs). His job was to share the burden from the three stars. Its a tough task, sure, but thats what he was paid for. Good for him the Spurs organization didnt let him go… yet.

  2. Thomas says:

    Richard Jefferson needs to really step it up this season, & i’m not talking about just hitting three pointers. The Spurs need a defender that can defend not someone who just stands around for 48 minutes a game. What do you mean how can you expect him to give 100% ? that’s what the man is paid to do Hammer. Maybe had he played much better the past two seasons with the Spurs they wouldn’t have considered using the amnesty clause on him. That’s just common sense sir!

  3. Cess says:

    RJ willl bounce back and have a great season…

  4. hammer says:

    how can you give 100% to a team that had reportedly “decided” to amnesty you? a free agent signing didnt go as they planned so bring back the “garbage” you threw out? i def. feel bad for RJ, still can play bball at a high level when he gets it going and that athleticism is unbelievable!
    BACK to the new LaLa land: cp3 is playing thru 12-13 season and BG could be a free agent if he doesnt sign an extension. both are gonna screw clips and run to lakers with Kobe/Dwight YAAAA SON

    • imad akel says:

      RJ can’t take this personally. His contract is kind of big…He should be glad they kept him. After all, they had a great season last year…