Dis­ap­point­ing swing­man de­cides to be­come free agent

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - FROM STAFF AND WIRE RE­PORTS

San An­to­nio’s Richard Jef­fer­son opts out of fi­nal year; who else will be on the move?

As the biggest free agency in the his­tory of the NBA opened to­day, the San An­to­nio Spurs re­ceived a huge and un­ex­pected gift.

Swing­man Richard Jef­fer­son, a bust in San An­to­nio, opted out of the fi­nal year of his con­tract and joined the free-agent class. One could al­most hear the cheers com­ing from Spurs man­age­ment.

Jef­fer­son was due to to pull down about $15 mil­lion next year af­ter his un­der­achiev­ing first sea­son in San An­to­nio.

Jef­fer­son, who av­er­aged nearly 20 points for Mil­wau­kee in 2008-09, scored only 12.3 per game for the Spurs — his low­est av­er­age since his rookie year. He strug­gled to adapt to coach Gregg Popovich’s sys­tem, at one point los­ing his start­ing job.

The Spurs traded for Jef­fer­son and his bloated con­tract last sum­mer in a deal gone bad with Mil­wau­kee.

It was as­sumed Jef­fer­son would ex­er­cise

Con­tin­ued from C1 his player op­tion for 2010-11 and drag down the Spurs’ at­tempts to up­grade their ros­ter. Now, with­out him, the team has eight play­ers un­der con­tract for just over $52 mil­lion. The pro­jected salary cap is $56 mil­lion, which gives the Spurs some room to op­er­ate. In other de­vel­op­ments:

Dirk Now­itzki saved the Dal­las Mav­er­icks a trip to Ger­many, a sign the team’s all-time lead­ing scorer and re­bounder might not be a free agent for long. Mavs pres­i­dent Don­nie Nel­son said he was mo­ments away from board­ing a plane for Now­itzki’s home­land Wed­nes­day when the for­mer MVP’s ad­viser called to say they were fly­ing to Dal­las in­stead. “A re­ally good sign,’’ Nel­son said. The nine-time All-Star will meet with club of­fi­cials at his Dal­las home to­day.

LeBron James will be­gin his in­ter­views with six or seven teams to­day in his home­town of Akron, Ohio, start­ing with a pre­sen­ta­tion by the New Jersey Nets. James also will meet with New York, Mi­ami, Chicago, the Mav­er­icks star Dirk Now­itzki is test­ing free agency, but said he’ll travel to Dal­las to talk in­stead of team of­fi­cials vis­it­ing him. Los An­ge­les Clip­pers and his for­mer team, Cleve­land. There are re­ports that the Mavs’ Mark Cuban is try­ing to get an au­di­ence with James, as well.

Free agent for­ward Chris Bosh tweeted that it’s un­likely he, James and Dwyane Wade could all wind up with the Mi­ami Heat. Bosh said he ex­pects a full max­i­mum con­tract, and it was dif­fi­cult to see how the Heat would have the cap room to spring for three max con­tracts.

The Hous­ton Rock­ets ex­tended qual­i­fy­ing of­fers to re­stricted free agents Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry. By mak­ing the of­fers, the Rock­ets re­tain the right to match any of­fers they re­ceive. Hous­ton also ex­er­cised its op­tion on for­ward Chuck Hayes. The Rock­ets qui­etly hope they can in­ter­est Bosh and Toronto in a sign-and-trade deal. Hous­ton has 12 play­ers un­der con­tract.

Re­stricted free agent Rudy Gay re­ceived a qual­i­fy­ing of­fer from the Mem­phis Griz­zlies, mean­ing that team has the right of first re­fusal for the 6-foot-8-inch for­ward who av­er­aged 19.6 points.

Bos­ton Celtics coach Doc Rivers will re­turn for an­other sea­son, stay­ing with the team he led to the fi­nals twice in three years for a run at an­other cham­pi­onship.

Cleve­land is in se­ri­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions with By­ron Scott to be its next head coach. Scott was most re­cently coach of the New Or­leans Hor­nets. Ear­lier re­ports had the Cava­liers chas­ing Lak­ers as­sis­tant Brian Shaw, who is on the short list to re­place Phil Jack­son if Jack­son re­tires. For­mer ma­jor league star Roger Cle­mens pitches to his son, Koby, who plays for the Dou­ble-A Cor­pus Chrisi Hooks, on Wed­nes­day dur­ing the Texas League Home Run Derby in Mid­land.

Richard Jef­fer­son

Cindeka Nealy

Ron Jenk­ins

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