Anticipating a Richard Jefferson trade


This post is pure speculation. It’s made of tea leaves and weathervanes and little bits of the NASDAQ.

A Richard Jefferson trade is on the table. The Spurs are about to make a move.

Since the start of free agency, the Spurs’ name has been attached to no fewer than five players: Boki Nachbar, Josh Howard, Mo Evans, Vince Carter, and Caron Butler. All veterans; all small forwards. Josh Howard and Caron Butler will be in San Antonio tomorrow to meet with the Spurs.

Just after the Spurs were bounced from playoffs last season, Gregg Popovich granted an end-of-year interview to the Express News. In that interview Popovich listed a couple offseason goals. The first was defensive improvement:

…to do everything humanly possible to become a more elite defensive team. For a couple reasons: One, historically, good defensive teams go the farthest in the playoffs, as can be proven in a million different ways.

Secondly, for personal reasons I felt very uneasy all year long with our spotty defense that could not be consistently relied upon in fourth quarters. It drove me crazy. I think I just need to do whatever I need to do — personnel-wise, or drill-wise or demand-wise — to go from the middle of the pack back to four, five, six, seven, somewhere in there.

We can’t be one, two, three anymore. We don’t have that youth, that juice to do that. But I think we can be four, five, six, seven, instead of 12, 13, 14, 15.

Coach Popovich put his other goal this way:

Our biggest need right now — depending on what ’Dyess does (with retirement) — is a starting four (power forward). We need to know who is going to be our starting four. Is it DeJuan Blair? Is it (Tiago) Splitter, where Timmy’s the four and Splitter’s the five? Is it Matt Bonner? Do you need to make a trade? We’re investigating all those areas.

Let’s assume nothing has changed since Pop identified these two things as his team’s top priorities. If the Spurs need a power forward, why are they chasing every available veteran small forward? Why would they need another small forward with a depth chart of Richard Jefferson, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Da’Sean Butler?

The smart money says the Spurs have a deal in place to swap Richard Jefferson (and pieces?) for a big.

There is the possibility that San Antonio is planning to use the amnesty clause on Richard Jefferson, but this doesn’t make much sense to me.

First, there is the expense of it. Is Peter Holt really keen on the idea of paying Richard Jefferson 30 million dollars to take a walk? Doubtful. And doubly doubtful if the Spurs are currently planning to add another 5 million of payroll to secure his replacement. That’s 35 million dollars in RJ-related expenses.

Second, Peter Holt is well-known to have lobbied for use of the amnesty clause at any time over the life of the new CBA, not simply prior to this season. Why go through the trouble if his team planned to throw the amnesty sack over Jefferson’s head prior to the start of this season? Either he was simply playing the role of good soldier for his fellow owners or the Spurs have other plans.

Third: RJ amnesty plus a replacement small forward does not equal a new power forward. In fact, it makes a new power forward practically impossible.

Finally, the Spurs did something rare over the weekend. They leaked their displeasure for a player.  In a Buck Harvey piece published on December 3, we find this quote:

“You know, in football, when there’s a pile and the runner is tackled?” a Spurs coach said not long ago. “Richard is the guy who runs in when the play is over and jumps into the pile.”

Ouch. And, wow, is that out of character. How often will the Spurs publicly ridicule one of their own in this way?

Here’s what I expect to happen Friday morning: the Spurs will announce they’ve moved Richard Jefferson (and other assets) for a new big. Then, shortly thereafter, the Spurs will sign a veteran small forward to replace Richard Jefferson.

I hope you enjoy spoilers. That’s not your entire offseason, San Antonio, but, if my suspicions are correct, it’s the central plot.

  • Seth Karlin

    Good article bonner and rj are done…both soft..who u got in a trade

  • bakedroll

    i dont want to sound like an idiot here…but is it possible the spurs could be looking for a trade with atlanta for thier pf…he apparently wants outta there and josh smith in sa sounds pree appealing, but i dunno….we got the parts to make it happen??? or is it juss a pipe dream???

  • Bob

    I am not sure the Spurs should make a deal unless they are sure the replacements can fit in right away and improve the defense. Otherwise they’re basically throwing this year away. It’s very hard to chemistry to gell in one season and for new players to adjust to the system. This will be year 3 of the RJ experiment. I say it’s probably better to add incrementally and hope for some improvement from Anderson and Splitter and contributions from Leonard. That way the preserve chemistry and “corporate knowledge.” It took 3 years for the Mavs’ Kidd trade to finally reap dividends.

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  • STC

    I guess I misinterpreted your tweet Tim. If the question is to rank RJ along with the five guys you mentioned while at the same time assuming amnesty for RJ, then I prefer RJ. If a trade is in the works then things are different. If we can flip RJ for an upgrade in the front-court and get a cheaper SF in free agency I am all for it.

  • Jjonathany82

    I’m very skeptical of this logic.  RJ has no trade value right now, and it’s not like we have other great assets to package with him.

  • Jacques

    That is some bold assumption Tim. I still think RJ won’t be traded, but if it does happen, I have a gut feeling that it is not going to look like a pretty one and possibly another risky move like George Hill’s

  • Jacques

    That is some bold assumption Tim. I still think RJ won’t be traded, but if it does happen, I have a gut feeling that it is not going to look like a pretty one and possibly another risky move like George Hill’s

  • Dan

     I posted this on Hardwood Prax, but makes sense here too.

    How about this trade:

    Cavs Send to spurs:Anderson V.Baron D (OR A Jamison)

    Spurs Send to cavs:Richard JeffersonTiago SplitterAntonio M (who promptly retires)

    Cavs free up time for Irving, Spurs free up time for Leonard.

    Spurs get the defensive big help they need. Cavs get a younger, legit big man to rebuild with.

    Davis and R Jeff are both contracts that neither team wants, Barons is bigger, R Jeff is longer.
    Baron gets into a motivated team environment and might actually play well, which would cover the backup PG position for the Spurs.

    Spurs add for NOW, Cavs build for later.

    Cavs cut payroll by 8 mil (3 million in trade, 5 million when Dice retires), OR you could also add send Bonner to the Cavs to make the salaries match a little more closely.

    Spurs add salary, which is not good, but the window is closing, gotta spend now. 

    What do you think?

    Seems like it would help both teams. Don’t love adding Baron, but the upgrade at big makes it worth it. Anderson V. covering the P/R guy with Timmy sitting back in the paint is a pretty good interior.

  • Prancisfena

    But who are they adding? They need a BIG but who’s gonna come in and fill those shoes?

  • spursfanbayarea

    Vince carter to be released soon. If we can trade jefferson for a big, we have multiple options at small forward. Could even sign either, carter, butler, howard. Would love for us to get another solid big man who can play defense. Unfortunately they are in rare supply. I hope the front office can surprise us. Even if it means giving up on blair or splitter. 

  • the little o

    Give me Andy Verajao please! 

  • Billy Hoyle


  • ZeusVizzle

    I think either a trade is in the works, or the Spurs know something that we don’t know.

    Why don’t they display a sense of urgency right now to pursue a PF? Well, its because they might have a guarantee from a certain PF to join them. My speculation is that it has to be an outright unrestricted FA.

    My educated guesses are:
    Best-case: Nene
    Worst-case: McRoberts

  • Ray Briggs II

    I love the idea behind the post but I am afraid of the results. I just can’t see what useful big RJ is going to net the Spurs unless they are giving up a major young piece (Splitter) along with him.
    If that is the case then the new big has to be a slam dunk not McRoberts or someone like that.

  • Blofeld

    Why is no one talking about Tayshaun Prince?  He’d fit in better than either Howard or Butler.  He’s an excellent defender and rebounder.  What am I missing?  

  • NYC

    Get real, people. This is the Spurs we’re talking about. Big name signings and trades are Mark Cuban’s M.O., not ours. 

    Here’s a wild thought no one seems to want to consider: what if the “super secret” knowledge the Spurs have is that McDyess won’t retire? Maybe they don’t anticipate landing anyone better than McDyess at PF. (Sad, but true.) Maybe McDyess returns but isn’t even on the starting roster–not such a stretch since Blair was the starter most of last season, and Splitter was mentioned in the article by Pop as a possible starter next to Duncan. Maybe they’ll rest McDyess all of the (shortened) season and then start him in the post-season… just as they did last year. 
    All this wishful thinking about some big name PF in exchange for RJ, Bonner, and a bag of Dorritos is only setting yourself up for disappointment. If it does go through, I don’t expect to be excited by what we land. It’ll be like a McBob, as someone previously speculated. I don’t believe it will go through because the Spurs aren’t going to want to take on another contract and rebuild with a mediocre player when they could be a free agency contender next year after Duncan”s contract expires and RJ’s is guaranteed to be jettisoned one way or another. The only way this trade happens is if the PF we land is someone the Spurs are really keen on, and he has a reasonable contract. Now what’s the likelihood a team would part with such an asset in exchange for Richard Jefferson and his bad contract? (We would probably be adding Blair to the deal, but even still….)

    Also, we’ll probably bring back Oberto on the cheap. 

    Face it, people, knowing what we know about the Spurs organization, we’re looking at a roster of returning veterans for this shortened season. Even the free agent SFs they’ve been linked to in the news are veterans. The Spurs want known commodities. They’ve already assumed all the risk they’re willing to handle in one season when they traded away George Hill. 

    The big news you’re all holding your breath for: Dec. 9, San Antonio — Spurs announce the return of Antonio McDyess and Fabricio Oberto. Still in negotiations with Bag o’ Dorritos. 

  • NYC

    I had the same thought. Why not pursue Prince? Why not Battier? The only reason I can think of is that Spurs don’t believe they can land those free agents due to salary desired or the undesirableness of playing in San Antonio. But Battier played in Houston, why wouldn’t he want to play for SA? And if Spurs can pursue Butler, then the money shouldn’t be that far off. I don’t get it either. 

  • Ryan McShane

    Don’t break my heart, Tim Varner! … Because this seems entirely plausible.

  • Johnghorgan77

    I say that they trade Jefferson and Bonner to the Clips for Chris Kaman. Works out money wise and for both teams. Clips could use vet 3 man

  • Anonymous

    I like that trade considering the lack of options.
    Bonner as a spacer for Griffin and Jordon. Jeff to hold down the three until Aminu (H Barnes take over the position.
    The main thing as a spurs fan is get rid of some combination Blair/Bonner/even Splitter. Hollinger’s breakdown made RJ look more reasonable, I only prefer Butler or Howard IF they are ALOT cheaper than RJ, cuz they aren’t saviors either.
    Oh, and as I said throughout the first half of last year: rest Ginobili! Save MG for the playoffs where he is nearly a D Wade caliber closer and all-around MVP.

    Bigger, better frontline + clutch Gino is the only way this group goes deep in the playoffs.

  • Joe Perez

    HoHoHo, Santa might just be here earlier then expected.  I say now is the time or wait for 2012  when you can throw in all our #1’s and 2’s for the next three seasons, RJ, Bonner, and Tony for Dwight Howard,  Orlando can’t pass on a deal like this.  Let’s face it we are not going to draft high ever again, just do it because the ship is not sinking yet, the pieces are already here.  Like some one else posted on another blog Big star’s are now looking for small market teams that have a better chance of winning a Championship, also because most likely those states don’t have state taxes, sounds like something the Democrats just hate.  Let’s just say for now 2 year contract for the hire guns with and option of opting out after the 2011 season. Get a Big Ugly something like Jaws from the old James Bond movies, go get the best experience SF available, and a veteran PG.  Get rid of some of those dead weight SF’s we got and AMac’s contract still holds a lot of weight.  Who they will be, who knows?     

  • hurm66

    I also believe the Spurs have some big picture idea of the 2012 free agency period. They will wait and see how the season begins, and put out feelers. With TD’s contract up and RJ sent packing via amnesty, do the Spurs have enough to tell CP3 and Howard, why don’t you come here and play together?

    Think about it – the road to the Finals would be easier and there are enough young pieces (Neal, Splitter, Leonard to go along with a one for the road Manu and cheaply resigned TD).

    Also you have the trade (sign and trade) chips of both TP, Bonner and Blair to round out the roster. Sure it’s far-fetched, but if those two really want to play together – really, why not in San Antonio?

  • Anonymous

    There must be fans in every single market with these very same pipe dreams

  • hurm66

    True. But not all markets are going to have that kind of cap room (between TD and RJ it’s about $30 million) and no state income tax. Just sayin’.

  • GMT

    Josh Smith would be really nice to have, but I don’t see why ATL would take another wing when their major need is still a PG.

  • James Evans

    I sure like the way you think, especially the part where you say “does not equal a new power foward.” That is what we need and trading RJ for a power forward would explain all the speculation about all the shooting forwards of late. I know it’s wishful thinking, but that doesn’t make it untrue! 

  • Hj7tr4

    I want RJ to stay. I just bought an RJ Spurs Jersey!!
    on NBA2K12, i use the Spurs almost every time. and i do very well with RJ, because i make him and Duncan the focal point of my offense. .. but hey, as good as it is, it is a video game. i will say it’s realistic in that we tend to give up leads in the last quarter, and also we are so soft in the middle (with the exception of Timmy). it does help though when i play Splitter and Timmy, for post defense

  • Hj7tr4

    being a spurs fan in atlanta, this is a deal i have fantasized about. i actually like horford a little bit more, but smith could fit.. but being here in atlanta and watching most hawks games, smith can be immature and defiant at times, even to his coach/team, so how would that play in san antonio once pop disciplines him? .. and also, on a side note, let’s sign Mario West. even if he ends up not making the team, he will make everyone better with his effort and competitiveness. i saw it for a couple years here, for the hawks but also ga. tech

  • Titletown99030507d

    I’ll keep Splitter over AV.

  • Titletown99030507d

    No way I get rid of Splitter for AV.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Please don’t bring your right wing politics into sports. Didn’t you hear when they asked Pop who his favorite is in the polls?, he replied with  “He’s already in”

  • Johnghorgan77

    Article now on how Spurs might be going after Kaman, which is exactly what I wrote yesterday. Please get hime he would be a great addition for Jefferson and Bonner

  • DorieStreet

    Smith’s shot blocking would surely help the Spurs get back to a top five defensive team, but his habitual deviation from the team’s efforts on the court (bad shot selection, disrupting offensive play and defensive assignments, his occasional ‘zone  out’ games (up to a half dozen per season) and his re-occuring surly attitude and flareups (on the bench, in the locker room, at practices) are still part of his resume, even as he begins his 8th season in the league.
    I don’t know if he is fit for the Spurs system/culture. But he just turned 26 yesterday (Dec. 5th)– maybe at this age, along with being a veteran NBAer, the light will finally come on and Smith starts to get it.  A trade  to a former championship-winning organization could spur (no pun intended) to ditch his baggage and become a leader (behind the big 3, of course) and get this squad back to elite status.

  • DorieStreet

    If the FO adds Baron then turn around and ship him somewhere else. Doesn’t fit the team in game or demeanor, IMO. A 12-year veteran, in the last half of his career, Baron has had seasons when he has missed 19, 17, 41, and 24 games (the other 2 seasons he logged 82 and 75).

  • DorieStreet

    Don’t know how much he wants to continue playing, but anybody signing him ain’t getting the Vince Carter of NBA lore and legend. Vincesanity, Half Man-Half Amazing- that guy is gone. He averaged 16 and 15 ppg the last 2 seasons, though–which is good. Can he/will he play the Spurs want to get back to?

  • DorieStreet

    TYPO—correction /Can he/will he play defense the way the Spurs want to get back to?

  • Hunter

    Ive got 2 crazy Schemes for you spurs fans.

    1. Trade RJ Blair Neal and a 2nd rounder to the Twolves for Wes Johnson and Michael Beasly. Beasly can play the 4 with duncan. WJ and Leanord can compete for the 3. The 4 (Beasly Anderson Johnson and Leanord) are all potential All stars. We Cut Bonner Let Mcdice Retire and Sign Aaron Grey or Janneer Pargo.

    2. Trade Jefferson and Bonner to Clippers fot Chris Caman. We get a Big who can play with duncan. Clippers get RJ who could still play the 3 at a good level and Bonner who can come off the bench.
    We then Sign Caron Butler to a 3 year 15 million dollar deal worth around 5 million a year and if he underplays we can Amnesty him next year

  • Anonymous

    1. You did say crazy schemes… this is a very strange trade. With Kahn, who knows. But for starters, with Love, Blair’s rebounding is unnecessary, and his weak D is also redundant. Splitter makes more sense. Kahn probably has to stick by Wes to justify selecting him. I could go on. From the Spurs side, it’s equally weird, doesn’t improve us defensively, and is certainly not a win now scenario, while also being a poor longterm solution at PF where either Bease or KL will be slotted. Very odd all around.
    2. Amnesty rule not applicable.

  • Anonymous

    In the unlikely event the Spurs acquire BD along with actual improvements to this rosters failings, I don’t hate it. The gambit would be to win now obviously, and you’d be getting the best situation for BD to salvage his legacy while also playing for his final contract. With BD at least you get a big-game player who steps up in the playoffs, and such a playoff performer is one thing the Spurs could should surely use (and don’t have outside of MG and maybe Neal, who aren’t much different in or out of the playoffs compared to say Robert Horry.)

  • Davidkatiloml

    Let’s face it…… The Spurs need to start making the moves to get a new YOUNG big man, that’s the position of power forward I am talking about. Yes I know it’s Tim’s spot. I am the biggest Tim Duncan fan ever to breath, but I also know that Timmy doesn’t have a whole lot left in the tank. I’m not talking about a move that would pay off right now because let’s face it, this season will not last long and will not go on without suffering injuries to STAR players. I am talking about being in a position to draft and/or trade to get the Spurs back on track….a track that is going to need a youthful and defensive minded team. Not seeing a real run for a championship this year, sorry. There is always next year though!

  • Jimenez70_85

    i like the idea of beasley, but doesn’t seem like an affordable option and also his glaring character flaws would doom this trade. if we had beasely, we would still lack interior muscle. i say we jettison blair to boost our trade assets.

  • Jimenez70_85

    i don’t mind the idea of bringing back A mcD, but blair should be included in a deal with rj that could land us a veteran logjammer. don’t hate me for saying this, but what is the status of eddy curry? : p. i believe he was a topic of discussion in spurs world at the end of last season

  • Stevenbilyeu

    Jumps into not on, there is a difference, I dont think he meant it bad. I think if he would of said onto then he would of meant it as bad.

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  • Tim in Surrey


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  • Espoon

    The Spurs could also do a Jefferson and Blair trade for Kaman or a Jefferson, Blair, and McDyess for Kaman and Gomes.  Kaman may be the best big available to the Spurs.  One big problem I see is that the Clippers are also look at SF (namely Butler), so the Spurs may need to find another partner.  Biendres may be available in GS, may the Spurs could look there or work a 3 team deal.

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  • NYC

    There’s really no way of reading it as a good thing no matter how he said it. Pretty out of character for the Spurs and worries me a little.