With zero cap space available, the Cleveland Cavaliers front office had to go bargain basement shopping to fill needs on their roster. According to sources, that is exactly what they did on Tuesday—inking veteran wing, Richard Jefferson, to a deal for the veteran minimum.
As reported earlier in the day by Marc Stein, “Sources said Jefferson, who committed to re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks earlier this month, changed his mind in recent days and is finalizing a one-year veteran minimum deal with the Cavaliers instead.” Landing Jefferson is more than the Cavaliers could have hoped to do on the open market with other veteran minimums—if he keeps up his outside shooting.
Jacob Rosen of Waiting for Next Year broke it down perfectly on Twitter earlier, as you can see in the image below.
To put it plain and simple, Jefferson has the opportunity to provide the Cavaliers with what many thought they were getting in Mike Miller last year—a player who can play shooting guard and small forward and space the floor for Kyrie Irving and LeBron James.
Richard Jefferson since 2010-11: Corner 3s: 225-for-497 (45.3%) Other 3s: 226-for-580 (39.0%) This seems pretty good.
— Jacob Rosen (@WFNYJacob) July 21, 2015
Many people will look at Jefferson’s numbers last year in Dallas and think he cannot contribute, but he wasn’t playing with players like Irving and James who create open shots for a guy with his sharp-shooting ability. A career 38 percent shooter from three-point land, Jefferson has knocked down threes at a 40.9 percent and 42.6 percent clip his last two seasons in the league. He can also still play some defense in short spurts off the bench, which will be a welcome addition with the likes of James Jones and Miller providing very little of that in their limited time in the game last season.
If you are expecting Jefferson to be a game-changer, you need to stop that line of thinking right now. He averaged 5.8 points per game in 16.8 minutes last season—starting in 18 of the 74 games he played in for the Mavericks. Jefferson finished the year shooting 44.4 percent overall from the floor. With this in mind, there is an opportunity for Jefferson to make a bigger impact this year with the Cavaliers.
When you look at the players who came off the bench last season for the Cavaliers, there were plenty of shots to go around. Matthew Dellavedova played 20.6 minutes per game and attempted 4.6 shots. James Jones played 11.7 minutes per game and averaged 3.5 shots. Shawn Marion played 19.3 minutes per game and attempted 4.7 shots. And Mike Miller played 13.5 minutes per game and attempted 2.2 shots.
Between those four players, you are talking about 15 shot attempts per game that are going to be distributed between Jefferson, Jones and Mo Williams this season as the roster is currently composed. On top of that, you can probably expect the Cavaliers to back off on James’ 36.1 minutes per game during the regular season—which means Jefferson could push up to 20 minutes per night, giving him even more shot opportunities in the process.
The bottom line in regard to this signing is this—if the Cavaliers think Jefferson can still play, this is a solid steal away from the Dallas Mavericks. Jefferson can play meaningful minutes, provide another veteran voice to the locker room and be more than a cheerleader on the sidelines—likely what they will get from Miller again this coming season.
Other Cavaliers Notes
It appears Kendrick Perkins will not be back with the Cavaliers next season, as reports say he is signing a one-year deal for the veteran minimum with the New Orleans Pelicans. This is unfortunate, as many of us were looking to see him settle the Cavaliers score with Kelly Olynyk. Though, maybe Kevin Love can buy him dinner to handle the business in a different uniform. If not, we’ll always have the video below to remember him by.