Although Richard Jefferson didn’t make our list of the Top 5 Potential NBA Amnesty Clause Victims, that doesn’t mean he couldn’t still fall victim. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Spurs have indeed decided to use their one-time amnesty clause on the 10-year NBA veteran.
What does this mean? While San Antonio clears Jefferson’s remaining three years and $30.5 million from the team’s payroll, they’re now in the hunt for a starting small forward. This move puts the Spurs under the luxury tax threshold, allowing them to use their entire mid-level exception on a replacement.
Rookie Kawhi Leonard will surely have an opportunity to compete for the job. But if the Spurs have their designs on a championship, they’ll need a veteran (like Caron Butler or Josh Howard) to man the position in this abbreviated season.
As for Jefferson’s future? Teams will be allowed to place bids on him during the amnesty waiver process, and any with cap space will have a chance to bid on a portion of Jefferson’s contract before he would become a free agent.
If no team under the cap bids on Jefferson, he will be said to have “cleared waivers,” and the rest of the league will get a crack at him. This is where things could get interesting, because a few teams over the cap could use a backup wing player with range and the ability to draw fouls. Boston is starving for a backup wing, the Heat could use some Mike-Miller-injury insurance, and the Thunder (a tad under the cap, actually), if they could wriggle a roster spot free, could us a true small forward to back up Kevin Durant so that they don’t have to play three-guard lineups so often. Even Dallas could use Jefferson to do what Peja Stojakovic did last season — open up the floor when the combination of Shawn Marion and a center is squeezing it, especially when Dirk Nowitzki is resting and Marion shifts to power forward. Toss in Orlando (after Quentin Richardson’s struggles and Jason Richardson’s likely departure) and Memphis (in need of shooting to replace [Shane] Battier, in the likely event he leaves), and I wouldn’t argue.
What do you think? Who do the Spurs sign? Where does Jefferson land?
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