Richard Jefferson Opts Out of Contract
In a somewhat unexpected turn of events, Richard Jefferson has opted out of the final year of his contract with the Spurs. This move still leaves the Spurs above the cap, but will undoubtedly ease the financial burden on Peter Holt’s wallet. The Spurs could be looking at a tax free 2010-11.
Why would Richard Jefferson leave 15 million dollars of guaranteed money on the table? He and his agent are no doubt convinced that Jefferson can secure a long term contract which guarantees Jefferson more money over, say, the next 5 years. That is, Jefferson is willing to take a financial hit this season for the benefit of more cash over the balance of his career, especially in light of the next CBA, which promises to reduce player salaries.
From the Spurs perspective, this is a financial blessing. Although, it’s not necessarily a help to the team’s on court success. Richard Jefferson’s expiring contract could have brought back a decent player for the Spurs, and now the team is woefully thin at small forward with only the MLE and LLE at their disposal.
The Spurs maintain Richard Jefferson’s Bird Rights, giving San Antonio the option of a sign and trade or simply resigning RJ to a more modest figure. The Spurs, however, would not want to resign Jefferson at the cost of a steep tax bill. There are a handful of teams–the Knicks come to mind–who might be in the market for a sign and trade piece later this summer.
If I were a betting man, I’d say Richard Jefferson has played his last game for the Spurs. And, more to the point, that the Spurs will easily replace Jefferson’ production with a less sexy player, but one who is a better fit for their system.