The Cleveland Cavaliers have confirmed that Richard Jefferson is returning for next season, after putting pen to paper on what was previously reported to be a two-year deal worth $5 million.
Jefferson was a significant factor in last season’s run to the championship, slotting in seamlessly in Cleveland’s small-ball line-up at power forward, where he averaged 18.1 minutes per game while contributing 5.4 points per game.
The former New Jersey Net was said to be retiring after the Cavaliers put away the Warriors in the NBA Finals, however later changed his mind, committing to the Cavs for several more years.
Richard Jefferson will add to an already established team, adding valuable experience and solid team-play on the defensive end. His resurgence has surprised many after being dumped by several teams before, serving as a respectable bench player for the Utah Jazz in the 2013/14 season.
Once regarded as an offensive talent without the right focus to win, the forward has rapidly changed the perception that for years people had of him by contributing mightily in the the latter stages of the Cavaliers’ recent playoff run. His effort levels, particularly on the defensive end, were off the charts, nullifying Draymond Green’s threat and ultimately keeping Kevin Love out of the first choice line-up against the Golden State Warriors by capitalising on Green’s offensive weaknesses.
Jefferson stressed the importance of taking care of his body to achieve his goals by stating: “You’ve got to work twice as hard now to slow the decline. When you’re 25, you’re trying to get gains. When you’re 23, you’re trying to get gains. Once you get to this point in time, you have to work twice as hard just to slow the decline, because if you don’t work that hard, then the decline comes a lot faster.”
“There is a satisfaction to it, but there’s also a satisfaction if it can be completed” he continued. “I think that completion is what I’m really looking for. And if it’s not completed, it hurts even more, because you’re so close to your ultimate goal.”
On such an affordable contract, the Cavs have jumped at the chance to re-sign Jefferson to help defend their title after seeing how valuable he could be. Other teams will take note that experience can significantly aid a team and in the case of the Warriors and the Spurs, similar moves had been made to ensure this.