Jazz Likely To Let Al Jefferson Walk?

June 24 2013 at 11:21am CST By Luke Adams

A big offseason is set to get underway in Utah, where the Jazz have several key contributors headed for free agency, including Paul Millsap, Mo Williams, and Al Jefferson. While we haven't heard a whole lot about the team's plans for their free-agents-to-be, ESPN.com's Marc Stein says (via Twitter) there's a rising sense around the NBA that the Jazz will simply let Jefferson walk.

Responding to Stein's tweet, Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld confirms (via Twitter) that he's hearing the same thing. In a second tweet, Kennedy adds that he heard shortly after the season ended that Jefferson was "packing his bags and expecting to walk elsewhere as a free agent."

While it may seem like poor asset management for the Jazz to let Jefferson walk in free agency without negotiating a sign-and-trade to get something in return, that's not necessarily the case. Unless Jefferson wants to go to an over-the-cap team, there's little incentive for him to agree to a sign-and-trade, since it could weaken the roster of the club with whom he lands.

Additionally, the Jazz would likely have to take on a good chunk of salary to make a sign-and-trade deal work, and the team may prefer to simply clear Jefferson's $16MM+ cap hold from their books and claim the cap space it creates.

Jefferson, 28, figures to be among the summer's most popular free agent targets. Given Andrew Bynum's health issues in 2012/13, Jefferson may have taken Bynum's place as the second-best center about to hit the open market.

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