Bucks to send Jefferson to Spurs
AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) – A Bucks official with knowledge of the deal says Milwaukee plans to trade scoring forward Richard Jefferson to the San Antonio Spurs for Bruce Bowen, Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto.
The official said Tuesday, in another move, the Bucks would send Oberto to Detroit for forward Amir Johnson.
The person confirmed the pending trade to The Associated Press and requested anonymity because the deal is not official until a call later Tuesday.
The trades will give the Bucks more financial flexibility, the Spurs a proven scorer and the Pistons a veteran big man at a lower cost than Johnson.
Yahoo! Sports earlier reported the deal between the Spurs and Bucks.
The Bucks are sending Jefferson away less than a year after acquiring him in a draft day deal with New Jersey for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons. Jefferson’s contract has two years and $29.2 million remaining.
Jefferson was a steady offensive force for Milwaukee last season after spending his first seven years in New Jersey. He averaged 19.6 points and shot a career-high 39.7 percent from 3-point range while starting all 82 games.
Spurs guard Tony Parker said he would welcome a big, athletic player like Jefferson.
“He’s a great wing,” Parker said. “It’s something we don’t have on our team.”
Parker and Tim Duncan had little offensive help in April when the Spurs lost in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Jefferson gives San Antonio a scoring threat it sorely lacked when Manu Ginobili was out with injuries.
Jefferson became the Bucks’ biggest offensive threat after Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut suffered season-ending injuries, but the team’s tight financial situation made a move necessary. Milwaukee does not want to pay the NBA’s luxury tax, which last year hit teams dollar-for-dollar once they reach $71.15 million in total payroll.
Redd, Bogut and Jefferson are scheduled to make more than $41 million combined this season.
The trade was a shock to at least one Bucks player: Charlie Villanueva posted “RJ traded to Spurs. Wow” on his Twitter account before the trade was official.
Bogut also chimed in, wishing Jefferson the best.
“Sad to see RJ go. He was a fun guy to be around and could play. We are building for the future, slow and steady. Patience grasshopper,” Bogut posted on Twitter.
The deal actually might allow the Bucks to keep Ramon Sessions or Villanueva, since both are restricted free agents.
Bowen and Thomas give the Bucks a veteran group and neither is signed beyond the upcoming season.
Johnson, 22, is a young power forward and another option down low for Milwaukee.
Johnson, a second round draft pick by Detroit in 2005, started 24 games for the Pistons and averaged 3.5 points and 3.7 rebounds. He is also in the final year of his contract, but makes slightly more than Oberto’s $3.5 million.
Bowen, 38, is a 13-year veteran known for his defense. Thomas, 36, has played 14 years in the NBA, primarily at forward and center, and has been a bench player each of the last three seasons, averaging 4.3 points last year.
Oberto, 34, has played four years in San Antonio, averaging 3.6 points per game in his NBA career. Last season he underwent a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat.
Associated Press Writer Paul J. Weber contributed to this report from San Antonio.