CLEVELAND (AP) — Richard Jefferson has experience, deep knowledge of the NBA and a deft shooting touch.
The Cavaliers plan to lean on all those attributes.
The free agent forward has agreed to terms on a one-year deal for next season with Cleveland, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Jefferson has not yet signed his contract.
Jefferson, who came off the bench for coach Rick Carlisle in Dallas last season, will receive the veteran’s minimum salary of roughly $1.5 million. The 35-year-old averaged 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 17 minutes per game in his one season with Dallas and shot a team-leading 43 percent from 3-point range. He had been expected to return to the Mavericks, but he may have become expendable when the club signed shooting guard Wesley Matthews.
Jefferson fills the roster spot created by the retirement of Shawn Marion. While Marion wasn’t a major contributor on the floor, he helped mentor Cleveland’s younger players and Jefferson could have a similar impact.
Like Marion, Jefferson is no stranger to the playoffs, appearing in 105 postseason games. He has also played for New Jersey, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Golden State and Utah.
ESPN first reported Jefferson’s deal with the Cavs.
Cleveland has been in the market for wing players like Jefferson, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2001 draft, this summer. The Cavs remain interested in re-signing free agent J.R. Smith, who declined his $6.4 player’s option when free agency opened. Smith is expected to meet with the team later this week.
The streaky shooter, who came to Cleveland in a midseason trade from the New York Knicks, had a disappointing NBA Finals. The Cavs were without All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and forward Kevin Love against Golden State and needed someone to pick up the scoring slack and help LeBron James. But Smith didn’t deliver, and his shaky performance — he shot 31 percent from the floor — raised speculation about whether he would be back for a second season with the Cavaliers.
The team, though, remains interested in Smith and vice versa.
Cleveland also continues to have talks with restricted free agent forward Tristan Thompson and guard Matthew Dellavedova. Thompson had a strong postseason with the club and could land a deal worth over $15 million per season. Dellavedova’s popularity soared when he performed well while filling in for Irving, and the Cavs love the Australian’s energy and attitude.