One of the most bizarre free agent stories of the summer has come to an end. According to Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News, free agent forward Richard Jefferson will sign a long-term deal with the Spurs on Wednesday.
The 30-year old Jefferson was one of the most disappointing new arrivals of last season. The Spurs had high hopes after they acquired the former Net for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas, and Fabricio Oberto. Jefferson failed to live up to those expectations, averaging only 12.3 points and 2.0 assists per game while shooting 31.6% from beyond the arc.
Given Jefferson’s relatively poor play in the 09-10 season, few expected him to opt out of the final year of his contract and leave a guaranteed $15.2 million on the table, but that’s exactly what he did. Jefferson and his agent explained that they do not want to test the free-agency waters in the summer of 2011, when a lockout may very well occur and a less player-friendly CBA will be passed.
Jefferson’s long-term deal is good news for the Spurs, who will get to pay Jefferson significantly less next season that they would have originally and stay under the luxury tax threshold. Meanwhile, Jefferson gets to stay with San Antonio while gaining some long-term financial security. The bad news here is that with more and more players and their agents seeking to avoid 2011 free agency at all costs, it seems increasingly likely that next year’s CBA negotiations will be extremely ugly.