Sheridan: Al Jefferson to Spurs?

The NBA trade deadline journalism racket is a tricky minefield to navigate. The business is driven by rumors, many of which are founded in truth, others of which are utterly fictitious.

Distinguishing between the two differentiates the good basketball Web sites from the bad sites.

But figuring out who is available is not rocket science if you speak to the right people, and I speak to a lot of plugged-in people on a regular basis.

Here is the latest they are telling me: The San Antonio Spurs are the front-runners to land Al Jefferson in a trade with the Utah Jazz – and they are frontrunners like Secretariat was in the 1973 Belmont Stakes.

Here’s why, followed by a how.

“Those teams are practically incestuous, they are on such good terms internally,” one NBA source told me Wednesday.

Indeed, Spurs assistant general manager Scott Layden left Utah prior to this season after spending several seasons as an assistant coach for the Jazz and joined R.C. Buford’s staff in San Antonio’s secrecy vault front office. Also, former Spurs assistant GM Dennis Lindsey is now doing the legwork for Utah’s grand pooh-bah, Kevin O’Connor.

The Jazz do not want to lose Jefferson for nothing when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, and they have a former overall No. 3 pick, Enes Kanter, ready to step in and fill the void that would be left by Jefferson’s departure.

Yes, Jefferson makes them a better playoff team. But no, the Jazz are not fooling themselves into believing they are championship material at this point.

And if Dwight Howard is not available on the free agent market this summer, Jefferson immediately becomes the No. 1 center available.

So the time for the Jazz to move him is now, and the team with the biggest need for an upgrade at center is the Spurs. The inability to protect the rim was one of the prime reasons for their collapse in last year’s Western Conference finals when they had won 20 in a row and had a 2-0 lead on the Thunder, only to lose the next four.

Next: The Jazz need a point guard, and the Spurs have two of them not named Tony Parker. So you can expect Patty Mills (who Lindsey is familiar with and fond of) to be the preferable choice over Nando de Colo.

The Jazz also need some value coming back in this trade, and the Spurs have one last Eurostash asset in Erazem Lorbek, who has been profiled on this site by writer A.J. Mitnick.

Presumably they’d also ask for Tiago Splitter, because somebody would need to back up Kanter, and because Splitter is having an improved season in the year his contract expires – meaning Utah would not be taking on any long-term financial obligation.

San Antonio throws in Stephen Jackson for salary-matching purposes (almost an exact match), and voila. Captain Jack will love Salt Lake City, hunh? 


  1. says

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  2. Spurs fan says

    This is the worst debate ever and a ridiculous rumor. The per-36 numbers for Jefferson and Tiago are almost identical (+3 scoring edge for Jefferson, although Tiago shoots +11% better from the field). In fact, Jefferson shoots 49% from the field, which is putrid for a big man near the basket. Outside of his volume scoring, Jefferson brings nothing to the table over Tiago and is a far inferior defender in terms of effort and ability. Jefferson has been unable to play his way into an All-Star game in his first 8 years so there is no reason to think he’ll ever be any better than he is right now. Also, Tiago makes $4 million and Jefferson makes $15 million so we would have to give Capt. Jack away (one of our emotional leaders off the bench, and the only Spur who could make 3’s against the Thunder) to make it work. The Spurs have made exactly one bad trade in the 20 years I have been rooting for them… I highly doubt they make another one now. I wouldn’t trade anyone on our roster for Jefferson but Blair and Mills. He’s a lazy crybaby who is a proven loser.

  3. Roderick Angelo says

    You Spurs fans are delusional. The Jazz can do much better than the assets the Spurs have. Unless Leonard comes in the deal the Jazz would acquire bench players that wouldn’t crack the rotation. Mills would not play, Splitter is not in the same league as Jefferson (wouldn’t play),

    Jefferson walks onto the Spurs team as the best offensive player on the roster. He is a walking 20 and 10. I realize he is not a defensive dynamo but you get a guy that can stay on the floor in late game situations. He shoots over 80 percent from the free throw line. I realize that Duncan is not playing poor so these 2 together would be a dynamic big man combination.

    If you fans think Splitter is more valuable than Jefferson then you all need help. The only way the Spurs contend for a championship before Duncan retires is to add a guy like Jefferson to compliment Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Jackson. You will not get Jefferson for Splitter unless Leonard is in the deal they could do a lot better. They would do better trading Atlanta for Josh Smith.

    The Jazz would be better served not getting anything than to take on excess salaries of players that would not play. For all of you that think that Blair is a Millsap clone you are dead wrong and don’t have an eye for basketball. The only similarities are the ability to rebound and they are both short. Millsap is a much better player than Blair. He is a better rebounder, athlete, defender and scorer. If I was a Spurs fan I would endorse trading for either of these guys.

    Spurs should go for Josh Smith if they could get him to add defense and athleticism. Samuel Dalembert is a good player, but the Spurs need more athleticism, perimeter and interior defender. Smith cannot shoot the ball but he is an elite defender. Jefferson and Duncan will guaranteed put up 35-40 points per night and 20 rebounds. That is nice production for your 2 bigs. They will also make life easier for everyone else in the starting line up.

    • stepxxxxz says

      why dont you look at the record of the two teams Angelo. If the jazz are so great why are they stuck down at the 8 seed? And if the spurs have such crap assets why do they have the best record in the west? Josh SMmith is the most overrated player in the league in my opinion. Pop wouldnt bother………….but like i say, Jazz fan……….look at the standings. Jefferson never takes anyone anywhere. ;Milsap is a nice rotational guy…a quality role player, nothing more……..which in fact is what Blair is. But i understand when you are a fan, it must be hard, but no reason to get all aggro on everyone. Its just a debate. And as I say, I think the spurs dont really need to get a clunking non defender like Big Al, regardless of his post up game, when what they really need is simply size and defense for the playoffs.

    • says

      He clearly said Splitter would be a back up and he never compared the two of being equal talent. Yes, the Spurs will be better but the point of moving Jefferson is to get more time for Kanter so he can continue to get better. They know Jefferson will not resign, so why not get something for him while you can. Taigo Splitter has shown growth since last season, he is no superstar but he won’t hurt your team either.

      • Chuck says

        Dixon is right. Jazz have shown their hand in that they want to feature a Favors Kantor front court. Jazzfan overstates their team’s leverage in a hypothetical trade involving Jefferson. If the demands are too high all the Spurs need to do is say “thanks, but well wait until the off season to make an offer in free agency in the hopes of pairing Al with his idol Timmy. Click.”

        Al Jefferson is effectively a contract at this point. If I’m the Jazz my best option may be to keep some of the cap saving (e.g., CaptJax 10m expiring), plus getting some prospects/parts for the 4m or so difference. Also does Jazzfan really think their team is going to pay Tiago the 8-10m a year he will command this offseason, to back up 2 players each earning less than that? Jax + Neal/Mills/De Colo and future picks is not unreasonable in this framework.

  4. Will says

    As much as the Spurs would like a scoring big man like Al, Splitter has been working the system and has improved greatly since he came in, not every player that joins the Spurs gets the system right away, it would not benefit the Spurs to have to start over. Maybe MIlls,Blair and Bonner for Al?

  5. Psuedohoax says

    Uhhh….. WHY would the Jazz make such a ridiculous trade?? You understand – Al’s stats are almost identical to Tim Duncan’s?? If you want to trade Tim for Al, then fine. Paddy Mills?????

    • stepxxxxz says

      jefferson plays no defense. Tim plays elite defense. Do you guys not understand the game at all? Jefferson has never been an upper tier player because he cant and wont play defense. He stands and watches guy drive past him every game. Its been the knock on him for years. Not a shot blocker either, which tim is. Its an absurd discussion.

  6. Patrick says

    It wouldn’t be a surprise if this was true given the connections but wouldn’t the Spurs be better off going after Dalembert? He has everything they lacked against OKC last year and can be had for much less.

    • Cluck says

      What’s the story on dalembert like what’s his strengths and weaknesses? But yeah I just don’t see the Utah thing workin. There not gonna give up jack cause that just creates another problem. Like Blair and either mills or Nando but not both, maybe a pick and the rights to lorbek but they prolly wouldn’t take it

  7. Kurt says

    I’m a jazz fan, and instead of trading Jefferson why don’t we just give the spurs, milsap.. in return for a swift kick in nuts…. that trade is more likely than any of this nonsense!

    • Cluck says

      What would we gain with Millsap though? Millsap and Blair have the same strengths and weakness except Millsaps strengths are stronger. Butttt he’s not short for center and can’t protect the rim like Blair. I think anyways? That’s just what I have pictured of Millsap anyways? Jefferson isn’t a great defender but he does have length which would help. But I don’t see him being happy coming off the bench. And if u start him were most likely to lose splitter to free agency.

  8. MagicCitySpur says

    Splitter, Jack, Patty, and a pick? Are you serious? Big AL is good, but we dont need him that bad. After all, we only currently just have the best record in the NBA! Btw, the just signed a 6’10” bruiser, or have you not been reading the League news? Spurs currently 6’9″ forward who can play the 3 & 4, rebound, and hit a midrange jumpshot, and reasonably good at freethrows, who can also be traded for Grizzly Blair!

    • says

      I am aware of the big fella from down under. He cannot be traded before deadline. Jazz come out with Patty (need a PG), Lorbek and Splitter, if they want to keep him, plus Capt. Jack for inevitable 1-8 series vs S.A.

      • Cluck says

        Spurs will not trade splitter for Jefferson no way no how and everybody keeps mentioning jack but we have nobody to replace him. Whose gonna go in for Leonard if jack is gone

  9. krista says

    Al Jefferson doesn’t fit the Spurs system. Putting that aside, why would the Spurs trade their best young big in Tiago, for an undersized, non-defensive “big”? And they would have to include MORE assets? Tiago for Jeff straight up would be bad.

    If you’re hearing Spurs trade rumors, then they can’t be true. When’s the last Spurs trade ANYONE predicted prior to the announcement of a finalized deal?

    • Jim says

      …….. And this is why women aren’t left to manage professional teams. This is RIDICULOUS undervaluing of an all star center. Tiago for Al? Cam annnnnnnnn!

      • TJ73 says

        She’s correct. Next to never are Spurs trades predicted. Al Jefferson for Splitter is not a fair trade. Leave salaries out of the discussion and I’d rather have the up-side of Splitter than what Jefferson offers.

      • Krista says

        If you disagree with my opinion, fine. But the fact I am a woman is irrelevant, or should be. I have followed basketball for over 20 years and know more about it than most people I’m around, men or women. I don’t follow sports unless I learn the sport. I know the rules, the players, and can offer just as sound an opinion as any other fan, man or woman. I’d suggest you grow up, but my opinion will fall on deaf ears when they belong to a chauvinist.

      • Krista says

        Yes, but I also know what Jefferson was in Boston, Minnesota, and now Utah. Age doesn’t make a player fit a system. Tiago fits. I think Al Jefferson would fit as well as Richard did. And to give up depth on top of losing a better fitting big man would not be good. I’m not suggesting it would a lopsided trade. Just a bad one for the Spurs.

  10. A.J. says

    Is it bad taste for guy to use and post a photo of a trade machine when the same guy told the people that own the rights to the trade machine to stuff their trade machine?

  11. Josh says

    As a Spurs fan i would only give Mills, Jack, Blair, Lorbek rights and a second for A Jefferson.

    Nothing more. Im sure the Spurs front office would agree. Splitter is off the table.

      • Jaron says

        This trade idea is much better for the spurs than the jazz, it will never happen, here take our best player for a bunch of scrubs, except Splitter, give me Kawhi and Splitter that is the only way i would approve, and Spurs won’t do that. Therefore this trade idea is garbage

    • Logan Heckathorn says

      I’m a huge Spurs fan. I like Al Jefferson but we need like one more player to fit the deal besides AJ. I would also add Marvin Williams too the deal because Ginobili is always injured, Green is like Jaren Jackson/Michael Finley ( a very great shooter.) Leonard is our Bruce Bowen, but he doesn’t have a backup I think MW would help coming off the bench. Also add a third team into the trade because if Splitter is gone who’s the backup with Duncan and Jefferson? Blair or Bonner? Which ever happens if the Spurs are gonna win a championship they need a big man alongside wit Duncan. I think AJ is the answer :)

      • stepxxxxz says

        the problem with jefferson is his defense. He’s a rather cynical player, actually. He makes almost no effort on defense and i cant see Pop tolerating that. Splitter WILL NOT be traded. I dont buy the trade but if it happened it would be Neal, lorbeck, a pick and Blair…..something like that. But i dont see it. I can see other bigs…….maybe………..milwaukee has several….Udoh is great on defense, but no offense. Dalembert certainly, as someone said, who is a much MUCH better fit. But i might be proved wrong….but i doubt AJ comes to SA:

  12. colincb says

    Al Jefferson and protecting the rim in the same sentence? Al’s a very good offensive player, but defense isn’t a strength.

  13. stepxxxxz says

    popovich doesnt want or need Jefferson. Spurs like to get guys who play D and who play hard. That eliminates big al. I dont see spurs making any moves beyond trying to trade Blair somewhere for a second round pick or something. I think gortat is gone. Clearly and absolutely gone. Where is the question. Charlotte for a lotto pick and change? To houston? though its an odd fit. Chicago would have to throw in butler and they dont want to do that plus they have cap issues. Boston would LOVE gortat but have little to trade, really. Phoenix has no interest in KG or pierce. Who can they move? Or Orlando for reddick and a pick. My guesses.

  14. BCF says

    The Spurs would never trade Splitter, look for him to have a contract extension before the season is over.

    The Jazz will trade him to the highest bidder, don’t expect it to be the Spurs.

  15. The JOkeShow says

    As a Jazz fan I would love Kawhi to come back in that deal with splitter but i do think the Jazz can get a better PG in return if they were going to trade big AL.

      • The JOkeShow says

        Never said that would happen but if it did I personally would want Kawhi but that wont be happening, not even for Splitter or anybody on that team.

        • says

          I’d imagine Jazz would want one from threesome of Leonard, Green, Neal, and I’d imagine Spurs would hold out against that. But remember, these are buddies playing poker against each other — a big part of what the source said would ultimately lead them to compromise.

          • stepxxxxz says

            honestly, I would be shocked if jefferson goes to SA. Shocked. Of all the players who might get moved, he is close to the last one I can see Pop wanting. A big guy who cant run, cant and wont defend, and played a role in getting sloan run out of utah. Maybe its true, but for sure they wont move splitter. Maybe neal and a pick……….but i dont see it. Just dont believe it.

    • Cluck says

      Yeah u don’t understand the spurs.. First of all splitter is not in that deal 2 Leonard will most likely be a spur for many many years. If either of those players were in this deal we would be gettin several jazz players with it. But NEVER happening!

  16. Brian says

    You said it. “The business is driven by rumors, many of which are founded in truth, others of which are utterly fictitious. Distinguishing between the two differentiates the good basketball Web sites from the bad sites.” #smh


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