News has broken that Richard Jefferson has chosen to rethink his decision to reprise his bench role with the Dallas Mavericks and chase a ring in Cleveland as a teammate with Lebron James and the Cavaliers. It seems the consensus among fans and media alike that this is not that big of deal. Mark Cuban via Cyberdust said the loss of Jefferson would give more opportunity for 2015 Mavs first round pick Justin Anderson to get on the floor. Anderson has been a huge bright spot for the Mavs in the midst of a lot of bad press over the last few weeks. Justin’s 17.5 points on 43.4 percent shooting from the floor over six games in the summer league already has former critics singing his praises. It seems evident that Anderson could be better than advertised, but even if he is successful is losing Jefferson meaningless?
Local sports personality Richie Whitt believes that this is a yawner and that it will not “change the ultimate direction” of the Mavericks. While long term Jefferson was not going to be a long term contributor to the Mavericks, I believe his presence will be missed this season. You can not place a value on a great locker room guy, who brings knowledge, humility to play his role, athleticism and skill off the bench. Not to mention all those things Jefferson led the Mavericks in three point percentage at 42.6%. No matter how successful Justin Anderson is, we cannot expect him to shot that kind of percentage in his rookie year while also trying to get used to the speed of the pro game.
I think team chemistry is huge and I worry that losing a guy like Jefferson who is a glue guy, a guy who everyone likes and brings everyone together is a bigger deal than we are making it. He showed the depth of his character by handling his change of mind in a way that was honoring to Mark Cuban and the Mavericks organization. I think losing a guy who has superstar talent although maybe diminished a bit by age who is willing to play a bench role of capable of starting a game as he did eighteen times this past season in Dallas is undervalued. While you may not see the 5.8 points that were lost on the scoreboard each night there are some intangible qualities that left Dallas and just headed to Cleveland. So I will cheer on Justin Anderson with all my might, but still mourn the loss of a guy who could have taught him so much about the game I love.
I’m more concerned about the ramifications it has for players in the future with Dallas. Ultimately, I think many players will begin to dismiss the Mavericks in the future. Their inability to be able to lure top free agents and role players for Dirk is troublesome. Do players not want to play for Cuban or Dirk? I don’t have the answer. However, I do believe that the Mavs will soon learn that the draft is the way to go. Losing Jefferson hurts the locker room but realistically has no effect on the long term success of the team. Jefferson had every right to back out and sign with Cleveland, just as Deandre Jordan did with Los Angeles. Difference is, Deandre Jordan made a fool of himself, while Jefferson took the high road.