AUGUST 5TH, 5:15pm: The signing is official, the team announced.
2:56pm: Stein’s full story includes Cuban’s response.
“He called and talked to me,” Cuban said. “RJ said he had an opportunity with an Eastern Conference team. He said he would honor what he [originally agreed to with the Mavs] but thought the other was a better fit. I told him I was OK with it and understood.”
2:43pm: Jefferson called Mavs owner Mark Cuban prior to choosing Cleveland over Dallas, so the Dallas organization was aware of this before it happened, as Cuban tells Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
JULY 21ST, 2:01pm: Richard Jefferson is breaking off his deal with the Mavericks to sign with the Cavaliers instead, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jefferson was to sign a one-year deal for the minimum with Dallas, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported earlier this month. It’s the second time this summer that the Mavs have had a free agent commit to them and later back out, as DeAndre Jordan notoriously did earlier this month. Jefferson won’t see any more money with the Cavs than he would have if he’d stayed on his deal in Dallas, as the Cleveland pact is also for the minimum salary, reports Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group (Twitter link). The Cavs deal is for one year, a league source told Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal.
It appears Dallas was at least somewhat on board with Jefferson’s change of heart, as opposed to Jordan’s, as a source told Lloyd that the Mavs gave the free agents who committed to them the chance to back out in the wake of Jordan’s flip-flop (Twitter link). Wesley Matthews said earlier that Dallas afforded him the same luxury, but he instead recommitted for about $13MM more. The Mavs also bumped the value of J.J. Barea‘s deal significantly higher. It’s unclear if Dallas offered a better deal to Jefferson than the one he originally agreed to.
The minimum for Jefferson, a veteran of 14 NBA seasons, is worth $1,499,187, but, since the deal is only for one season, the Cavs only owe him $947,276, the equivalent of the two-year veteran’s minimum. That’s key, since Cleveland is poised to go deep into the tax. Still, the Jefferson deal will cost Cleveland about $3.6MM in tax penalties on top of his salary, as former Nets executive Bobby Marks points out on Twitter.
It’s the second consecutive summer in which the Cavs are signing a veteran forward who spent the previous season with Dallas. Cleveland did so last year with Shawn Marion, who retired after this past season.
Jefferson ends up with the same salary as he would have made in Dallas, but his switch is not without consequence. He’ll have to pay state income tax for Ohio, as he wouldn’t have had to do in Texas, and his Mavs deal would have given him the power to block trades afforded by rule to players who return to their teams on one-year contracts. Jefferson will also be eligible only for Non-Bird rights with the Cavs next summer, instead of the Early Bird rights the Mavs would have held with him.