Spurs' Jefferson Pondering Possibility of Opting Out of Contract
It initially sounds ridiculous.
Nevertheless, San Antonio's Richard Jefferson said he hasn't ruled out opting out of his contract this summer. He explained why in an interview with FanHouse while in Denver on Saturday for the Spurs' 104-95 win.
"That's a situation I think every player will look at at the end of the season,'' said Jefferson, making $14.2 million this season and due to earn $15 million in next season's final year of his deal if he doesn't opt out. "I probably wouldn't make 15 (million dollars) some place, but you could somehow recoup some of that over a multi-year deal and get some guaranteed money for the next few years.
"So you figure it out. If you're able to get four years and 40 (million dollars by opting out) from someone, it's like, 'OK, I did lose out on 15 (million dollars). But I'm going to get basically a $25 million extension.' Those are things that you think of at the end of the season.''
Jefferson said he will look at several factors before the opt-out deadline of June 30. Those include what the NBA's economic climate looks like due to the possibility of a 2011 lockout, how the free-agent market sizes up, how the Spurs' future looks and how they do in the playoffs.
"If you win a championship, you might opt out,'' he said. "If you lose in the first round, you might stay. You can't say it's going to be one way or the other. That would be foolish (to not take many factors into account). Guys like LeBron (James), it doesn't matter.''
Jefferson, who never really has fit in with the Spurs and whose scoring average is the lowest since his rookie season of 2001-02, said his value is not as high with a slower-tempo team such as San Antonio as it would be with more up-and-down unit. Jefferson played with faster-paced New Jersey from 2001-08, and twice averaged more than 22 points in a season.
"I'm not going to get $15 million in this system (San Antonio's),'' said Jefferson, acquired last summer by the Spurs after averaging 19.6 points for Milwaukee. "I'm not a $15 million player. In a Phoenix situation, in a place that's more up and down and more fast-paced, my value and my stock probably rises. In a little bit slower-down offense, with the type of play that we have here, my value changes.''
That doesn't necessarily mean Jefferson isn't long for the Spurs since he won't hone in on what he'll do until after the season. Still, Jefferson, who turns 30 in June, realizes his days of being able to command a good-sized long-term contract are starting to run out.
"At the age of 29, you hopefully can sign a multi-year extension (in the unlikely event Spurs were to offer one by June 30) or kind of regroup that money lost in the first year (if there's an opt-out),'' Jefferson said.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson