So far this Free Agency period the Utah Jazz small forwards have been making a lot of news. Gordon Hayward was going to be receiving a max deal from the Cleveland Cavaliers, but instead is about to sign one with the Charlotte Hornets. Utah intends to match, though. Marvin Williams has attracted attention from a number of playoff teams in the East and West, and even had the Miami Heat brass fly down to meet with him. His other suitors also include the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns, and is getting a lot of attention right now from the Charlotte Hornets.
But that's just two of the three starting small forwards from our last season under the yoke of nepotism. The one guy we didn't mention, the starter who was actually the only small forward starting at that spot, Richard Jefferson has had little chatter. In fact the only two free agency points that even marginally reference him are that a) he's 33 years old and wants to still play, and b) the Jazz have shown the ability to take in bad salaries for a short term play, like what they did for RJ.
So why is no one talking to him?
Even at the age of 33,
- Richard played in all 82 games last season (tops on the team),
- started in 78 of them (tops on the team),
- played 2,213 total minutes (third on the team),
- shot .409% from deep (tops on the team),
- and attempted 301 threes (second on the team),
- and in his 27.0 mpg of action, on average, he had a stat line of 10.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, and 0.7 spg.
Sure, he was regarded as one of the worst producing starters in the league, but he still started, played a lot, was used a lot, and made his threes. He even made way more dunks than we ever expected.
So why has he not been involved in any rumors? Well, part of it is his age, another part of it is the free agent market for wings right now, but at the end of the day -- maybe it's just because some parts of his game just stink right now? While he played, had a stable role, and got to take as many shots as he wanted -- he still finished the season with a PER of 11.8. Playoff teams want old, smart, efficient old guys. Volume old guys aren't that special. He also finished the season with 2.7 win shares, fewer than Jeremy Evans . So, he's got that going for him. If you look at him in Synergy it's obvious that the once celebrated defensive player was but a fable from years ago. There are 15 roster spots in the NBA, and there are 30 teams, and by that simple math (avoiding IR guys or whatever), there are 450 NBA roster spots. Out of those 450, RJ was ranted #401st in defense (opponents points per possession). Maybe a guy like that shouldn't be starting anymore, huh?
Don't get me wrong, RJ was super professional all season long, said the right things, supported the coach (well, wouldn't YOU if he was starting you every game and playing you nearly 30 mins?), demonstrated the right mindset on the court, and didn't dog it when he was out there. Younger players can learn a lot from a guy like this. I hope our younger players did. I fear that if the Jazz play it cheap, they may be trying to get RJ to come back.
I think he's looking for years, not money right now. (He's a smart guy, and he knows that the NBA-PA pension plan is graded upon years played, not any other metric. The more years you play in the NBA the greater your eventual pay offs and benefits are.) The Jazz may not be able to give him a long contract. And when the dude is 33 years old, would you want to? No. The answer is no.
When more of the small forwards settle down with clubs I think his agent will pick a few spots and it is likely that we shall see him again in the NBA. He's silent right now. He still has some skills. But at this point in his career the parts of his game that stink might by outweighing the purported benefits.
And this stinks for RJ too, especially because he's not completely without some value. But all people are talking about right now is Marvin.
Marvin! Marvin! MARVIN!