Richard Jefferson opting out is a bad beat for San Antonio

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If the NBA off-season were a game of poker, the San Antonio Spurs just lost a big stack of chips when Richard Jefferson opted out of his contract. For all the financial relief it provides Peter Holt and Spurs ownership, it comes at the cost of R.C. Buford’s biggest trade asset.

With the NBA draft come and gone, most of the Tony Parker trade talk has subsided, though one has to wonder whether or not those deals are still off the table, or if they had any validity in the first place. The primary reason Tony Parker’s name has been so frequent in such talks is the assumption that Parker represented the San Antonio Spurs biggest trade value.

But you know what they say about assumptions, something about breaking down the word and it looking like this: Ass|u|me. While a deal involving Tony Parker may still net the most amount of talent in return, it also comes at the highest price.

For all intents and purposes, Richard Jefferson’s expiring contract was house money. In trading Richard Jefferson’s expiring contract, the San Antonio Spurs could have found another big stack while replacing merely mediocre production from the small forward position. Tony Parker would probably still be able to bring in a similar deal, but it costs you Tony Parker.

In a deal that returns similar pieces, would you rather pay with a run of the mill small forward, or your potential All-Star/All-NBA point guard?