Richard Jefferson

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Denver Nuggets

After years of being a beloved up-and-coming Western Conference hopeful, the Nuggets have lost some of their sheen due to circumstances somewhat out of their control. The franchise made its intentions clear by signing Paul Millsap to a contract north of $31MM this season, which only adds to the frustration caused by a relatively mediocre start.

The Nuggets had their hands full adding Millsap to the fold alongside 22-year-old Nikola Jokic, so we can’t exactly fault the club for getting out to a slow start, but – at just 16-15 – they have. When word broke that the 32-year-old free agent would miss months with a wrist injury, the outlook grew even more bleak.

All told, the Nuggets may not be quite as mysteriously captivating as they were in the past, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be a solid team eventually given the still-very-much intriguing young pieces that dot the roster.

Darrell Arthur, PF, 30 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $23MM deal in 2016
While Arthur has played nine seasons with just two NBA franchises, carving out a role as a consistently reliable rotation player on both despite never logging more than the 21.7 minutes per game, his pedestrian career marks of 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game aren’t likely to yield much on the open market. For that reason, expect him to pick up his $7.5MM player option.

Will Barton, SG, 27 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $10MM deal in 2015Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets vertical
In three and a half seasons with the Nuggets, Barton has made a name for himself as a solid spark plug off the bench. The soon-to-be 27-year-old unrestricted free agent will hit the open market in July and seems likely to command more from another suitor than the Nuggets would be comfortable matching given the other building blocks they’ll need to commit to.

Wilson Chandler, SF, 31 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $47MM deal in 2015
Despite having a career year in 2016/17 and starting every game of the season for the Nuggets so far this year, Chandler isn’t a major part of Denver’s long-term plans. Given that we may see more penny pinching next summer than we did the last two because of a league-wide dearth of cap room, it’s hard to imagine the forward landing more than what he’ll be able to get just by accepting the $13MM player option he has for $2018/19.

Richard Jefferson, SF, 38 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
After landing with the Nuggets on a minimum deal following his release from the Cavaliers at the start of the season, Jefferson will hit free agency once again next summer. At the ripe age of 38, no longer privy to the luxuries of competing for a championship, don’t put it past the podcasting superstar to retire.

Nikola Jokic, C, 23 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $6MM deal in 2015
The Nuggets have options for dealing with Jokic’s inevitable free agency. There’s no denying that the affable big man with a 24.1 career PER will command max money whenever he’s eligible to sign a new deal — whether that happens next summer or the one after that is the question. Denver holds a team option for Jokic’s 2018/19 campaign. While they could technically turn down his team option and look to lock him up as a restricted free agent in 2018, the Nuggets are already flirting with the luxury tax for next season without a monster Jokic deal on their books (or a possible Barton deal, for that matter). The front office could be better suited accepting the team option and then making a major play for the big man in 2019, once the contracts of Chandler, Arthur and Kenneth Faried expire. Still, there are optics to think about in that scenario. Regardless, Jokic has earned big money, so let’s pull up some chairs and watch how Tim Connelly and Arturas Karnisovas try to figure this out.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nuggets Sign Richard Jefferson To One-Year Deal

OCTOBER 19: Jefferson’s deal with the Nuggets is now official, per RealGM’s log of NBA transactions. Denver waived Nelson on Wednesday to open up a roster spot for the veteran forward.

OCTOBER 16: Veteran forward Richard Jefferson has agreed to a one-year, $2.3MM contract with the Nuggets, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports.

Jefferson cleared waivers on Monday. He was traded by the Cavaliers to the Hawks on Saturday in a cost-cutting and roster-trimming move by Cleveland. Atlanta immediately waived him.

Denver will likely waive veteran point guard Jameer Nelson to make room for Jefferson, according to Wojnarowski.

Jefferson fortifies the small forward spot behind Wilson Chandler. His primary backup, Will Barton, suffered an ankle injury in practice on Monday.

It’s somewhat surprising that Denver would let Nelson go, as he was considered a potential starter during camp. The Nuggets have apparently decided to go with the much younger duo of Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray at point guard.

The Bucks were considered contenders for Jefferson’s services but wound up claiming another ex-Cavalier, DeAndre Liggins, on Monday. Jefferson, 37, averaged 5.7 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 79 regular-season contests last year.

Contractually, Jefferson will collect two paybacks. He’ll also receive $2MM from the Hawks, who will get a $500K set-off at the end of the season, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Bucks Claim DeAndre Liggins Off Waivers

The Bucks have filled the 15th and final spot on their roster by claiming veteran swingman DeAndre Liggins off waivers, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). Milwaukee opened up that roster spot by waiving Gerald Green on Saturday.

Liggins, 29, is coming off his most successful NBA season, having appeared in 62 total contests for the Cavaliers and Mavericks, starting 19 games with Cleveland. However, since being cut by the Cavs just before the end of the regular season, Liggins has been a fixture on the NBA’s transactions wire.

Since the start of April, Liggins has been claimed off waivers (from Cleveland) by the Mavericks, traded to the Rockets, traded to the Clippers, traded to the Hawks, waived by the Hawks, signed by the Heat, and now claimed off waivers from Miami by the Bucks.

We’ll see if Liggins sticks with the Bucks, since his contract is non-guaranteed. For now though, Milwaukee’s waiver claim of the well-traveled guard/forward appears to take the team out of the running for Richard Jefferson, as Marc Stein of The New York Times tweets. The Bucks and Nuggets were among the teams linked to Jefferson, who cleared waivers this afternoon.

Nuggets Among Teams Eyeing Richard Jefferson

With Richard Jefferson poised to clear waivers later today, the Nuggets are among the teams that have joined the pursuit of the veteran forward, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Wojnarowski previous reported that there was mutual interest between Jefferson and the Bucks, calling Milwaukee a “serious suitor” for the 37-year-old.

While the Nuggets and Bucks have expressed interest in Jefferson, they’re not the only teams in the mix. There are three or four teams serious about making a run at the former Cavalier, according to Wojnarowski, who adds that Jefferson has a “strong friendship” with Nuggets president and governor Josh Kroenke.

A 16-year NBA veteran, Jefferson averaged 5.7 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 79 regular season contests last year. He was a victim of a roster crunch in Cleveland after spending the last two seasons with the Cavs, with the club trading him to Atlanta along with Kay Felder on Saturday. The Hawks subsequently waived both players.

If the Nuggets were to land Jefferson, they’d have to make a corresponding roster move to clear room for him, since the clubs is currently carrying 15 players on fully guaranteed salaries. There’s no clear candidate on Denver’s roster to be cut — the team’s lowest-paid players are important contributors or young prospects, such as Nikola Jokic, Tyler Lydon, Malik Beasley, and Juan Hernangomez.

Cavaliers Notes: Love, Jefferson, Irving, James

Kevin Love penned a farewell tribute to former teammate Richard Jefferson on Instagram, relays Hayden Grove of The veteran forward was traded Saturday to the Hawks along with Kay Felder to help reduce the Cavaliers’ luxury tax bill. Jefferson spent two seasons in Cleveland and helped the team win its only NBA title. “We would never have been able to celebrate our 2016 Championship without the contributions of RJ,” Love wrote. “He always stepped up to make our team better.”

Jefferson recorded an episode of his “Road Trippin'” podcast Saturday and said he knew his time in Cleveland was over when the team signed Dwyane Wade last week. Atlanta waived both players shortly after completing the deal, but the 37-year-old Jefferson has stated that he has no plans to retire and has already received interest from the Bucks and other teams.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • Jefferson was nearly traded last summer after unveiling the Cavs’ championship rings on his Snapchat account before the team was ready to make them public, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Former GM David Griffin was reportedly so angry that he wanted to move Jefferson to another team, but he eventually cooled down and accepted an apology.
  • Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving took a shot at his former home, saying there’s “a vast difference” between Boston and Cleveland, according to the Associated Press“Boston, I’m driving in and [thinking], ‘I’m really playing in a real, live sports city?” Irving said to reporters this week. Irving is also downplaying the thought of starting his Celtics career with a game in Cleveland, relays Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “I understand the magnitude … but I know what it is going to entail in terms of marketing, whatever the case may be, to garner up this energy to make people feel a certain type of way,” Irving said. “I get all that. It’s part of the game. It’s been a part of the game for a while, but it’s just two hoops and a basketball.”
  • The Cavaliers have been very cautious with LeBron James‘ injured left ankle during the preseason, but coach Tyronn Lue expects him to be ready for opening night, McMenamin posts on ESPN Now. “That would be a tough one for him personally to miss,” Lue said. “There’s a lot of hype behind the game but like I told him, we got to be smart about it. It’s just one game, but I think he’ll be OK.”

Mutual Interest Between Bucks, Richard Jefferson

The Bucks are a “serious suitor” for veteran forward Richard Jefferson, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Cavaliers traded the 37-year-old to Atlanta earlier today along with Kay Felder in a move designed to save as much as $12.8MM in luxury tax. The Hawks immediately waived Jefferson and Felder, making them both unrestricted free agents if they clear waivers, which should happen Monday.

Milwaukee could claim Jefferson off waivers, but taking on his salary would push the team $5K over the luxury tax, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Jefferson will make $2.5MM this season and a non-guaranteed $2,612,500 in 2018/19.

Several other teams have also expressed interest in Jefferson, sources tell Wojnarowski, but the Bucks seem to be the most prominent. Milwaukee waived another veteran forward, Gerald Green, earlier today to open a roster spot.

Jefferson was a teammate of Bucks coach Jason Kidd for seven years with the Nets, including two trips to the NBA Finals. Their relationship could give Milwaukee an edge once Jefferson hits the open market.

Wojnarowski adds that the Bucks have been working on several deals to trim cap space involving guard Rashad Vaughn and center John Henson. The team has offered a second-round pick to anybody willing to take Vaughn, who is owed nearly $1.9MM this season and has a team option worth $2.9MM+ in 2018/19. Henson has three seasons and more than $31.7MM left on his contract.

Hawks Waive Richard Jefferson, Kay Felder

The Hawks have officially requested waivers on Richard Jefferson and Kay Felder, the team announced today in a press release. Atlanta had formally confirmed their trade for Jefferson and Felder about an hour ago, so the duo’s stint with the team was very short-lived, as expected.

The Cavaliers sent Jefferson and Felder to the Hawks in order to clear a pair of contracts – one fully guaranteed and one partially guaranteed – from their books. The deal will help reduce Cleveland’s projected tax bill and gets the team’s roster in order for the start of the regular season.

From the Hawks’ perspective, the move essentially allowed the team to acquire 2019 second-round pick for free, since the Cavs sent enough cash ($3MM) to cover Jefferson’s salary and Felder’s guarantee. Jefferson’s $2.5MM salary and Felder’s $457K guarantee will remain on Atlanta’s cap for this season, reducing the team’s available cap room.

Jefferson and Felder will clear waivers on Monday, assuming they’re not claimed by another team. It will be interesting to see where each player lands, since Jefferson wants to continue his career and Felder has some appeal as a young prospect.

According to Sam Amico of (Twitter link), Jefferson is drawing interest from some non-contending teams, and the Celtics could be a possibility for him too. The veteran forward isn’t eligible to re-sign with the Cavs at any point this season.

Cavs Trade Richard Jefferson, Kay Felder To Hawks

OCTOBER 14, 9:50am: The trade is now official, according to a press release issued by the Hawks. As detailed below, Atlanta receives Jefferson, Felder, cash ($3MM), and second-round picks in 2019 and 2020 in exchange for the rights to Agravanis and Gladyr.Richard Jefferson vertical

Interestingly, the 2020 second-rounder is Portland’s pick. The protection on that selection is 31-55, meaning there’s a good chance it won’t actually change hands.

OCTOBER 13, 5:37pm: A Wojnarowski report at ESPN clarifies that the 2019 pick heading to Atlanta will be the lesser of the Timberwolves’ and Lakers’ picks that had been owed to Cleveland.

The Hawks will also receive $3MM in the deal, which is agreed upon in principle. That cash will cover Jefferson’s full salary and Felder’s partial guarantee.

4:57pm: The Cavaliers and Hawks are in advanced talks on a deal that would send Richard Jefferson and Kay Felder to Atlanta, Shams Charania of The Vertical reports.

Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, also involved in the deal will be the draft rights to a European player (Cleveland-bound), a pair of future second-round picks (Atlanta-bound) and cash (also heading to Atlanta).

Although the deal has not been finalized, Sam Amick of USA Today has tweeted that it will be Dimitrios Agravanis and Sergiy Gladyr in particular that will be heading to Ohio. Agravanis was the No. 59 pick in 2015, Gladyr the No. 49 pick in 2009.

Amick also tweets that the second-round picks going from Cleveland to Atlanta will be a 2019 pick and a 2020 pick. The Cavs have previously traded their own second-rounders in both years, but have acquired extra picks that they’ll use in this deal.

Per Wojnarowski, the Hawks plan to waive Jefferson and likely Felder too. Chris Mannix of The Vertical tweets that Jefferson has no plans to retire, but the 37-year-old will be ineligible to re-sign with Cleveland this season if he’s waived by Atlanta.

The Cavs have been hard-pressed to unload a guaranteed contract ever since they signed Dwyane Wade after his buyout from the Bulls. Shedding both Jefferson and Felder will bump the team down to 15 guaranteed deals and, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN, save the franchise as much as $12.8MM in luxury tax penalties.

Also, as Marks notes, the deal will create a pair of trade exceptions for Cleveland, one worth $2.6MM and another worth $1.4MM.

The Hawks can get to $4.9MM under the cap, enough to eat both Jefferson and Felder’s deals. While the two are signed to modest contracts, they both include guarantees — Jefferson’s is a full guarantee, while Felder’s is only partial.

In summary, Atlanta took advantage of available cap space and managed to procure a pair of second-round picks simply by eating two relatively minor contracts. Those additional draft choices will bode the franchise well as it embarks on its rebuild.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cavaliers Notes: Thomas, Jefferson, Crowder, James

Isaiah Thomas has hired a new agent in preparation for next summer’s free agency, relays Joe Vardon of Aaron Goodwin will represent the 28-year-old point guard, who is expected to be out of action until January with an injured right hip. Goodwin served as the first agent for LeBron James and has other high-profile clients such as DeMar DeRozan and Damian Lillard. Thomas, an All-Star last season, has been open about his desire for a maximum contract. The Cavs own Thomas’ Bird rights because he came to the team in a trade.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • The battle for the final roster spot may come down to veterans Richard Jefferson and Jose Calderon, writes Terry Pluto of The Cavaliers may not want to part with Calderon after signing him in July, so that could signal the end for the 37-year-old Jefferson, who has spent the past two seasons in Cleveland. Pluto notes that Jefferson’s salary is only $2.5MM, and 11 teams could accommodate him with trade exceptions, so the Cavs may try to make a deal rather than waiving him. Trading Jefferson could save the team roughly $10MM in luxury tax payments.
  • Former GM David Griffin tried for years to acquire Jae Crowder, whom the Cavs picked up in the Kyrie Irving deal, Pluto adds in the same story. James likes Crowder’s propensity to cut to the basket and score, and only Orlando’s Aaron Gordon ranked ahead of him in that category last season.
  • James will see his first preseason action Tuesday, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The Cavs have been careful with their star since he sprained his ankle on the second day of training camp, and coach Tyronn Lue wants to give his rotation players two games to get used to playing together. “If it was the season or the playoffs, he would have definitely been back by now, but it’s just being cautious,” Lue said of James’ status. “To start the season, you don’t want something like this to linger throughout the whole course of the season. So it was just smart for him to take some time off, get healthy and now he feels pretty good and we’ll try to give it a go on Tuesday.”

Cavs Notes: Jefferson, Felder, Calderon, Perkins

With 16 players on guaranteed contracts for 2017/18, the Cavaliers will have to trade or waive one of those players within the next 10 days. A report earlier this week indicated that Richard Jefferson‘s hold on a roster spot may be the most tenuous, and Joe Vardon of confirms that the team has held “early talks” with Jefferson’s agent about the possibility that the veteran forward will be the victim of the roster crunch. Still, no decision has been finalized yet, says Vardon.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Second-year point guard Kay Felder, whose salary is only partially guaranteed, almost certainly won’t make Cleveland’s 15-man roster. However, he’s hoping to become one of the club’s two-way players, Vardon writes.
  • Within his latest mailbag for, Vardon explains why Jose Calderon‘s roster spot appears safer than Jefferson’s. Vardon also discusses Koby Altman‘s performance as GM so far, Cleveland’s early impressions of Derrick Rose, and more Cavs-related topics.
  • Veteran big man Kendrick Perkins, who is in camp with the Cavaliers in the hopes of resuming his NBA career, admits that he let himself go and developed bad habits during his previous stint in the league. According to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, Perkins weighed 309 pounds when he left the Pelicans in 2016, but is back down to 267 now. “I couldn’t blame anybody but myself,” Perkins said. “It was a humbling situation being out and not getting a call last season. It was my fault for letting myself just drift off like that.”