Richard Jefferson to the Spurs, plus a Lakers draft tidbit
Well, Luke Walton may have to battle his bestie while defending the Lakers' title. The San Antonio Spurs and Milwaukee Bucks just completed a swap, one that places small forward Richard Jefferson and his 20 ppg under Greg Popovich's guidance in exchange for veteran expiring contracts Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas.
For the Bucks, the deal is mostly about saving cash to hopefully lock up Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions (and to just save cash, period). But the Spurs desperately needed to get younger, athletic and dynamic, traits provided by the former Wildcat/current Walton brah. He's also a much better defender than typically credited, which offsets the absence of Edward Scissorhands, who was on the decline anyway. Hell, with Bowen and Oberto only partially guaranteed for next season, both could very well be back at the Riverwalk come fall.
I've also heard San Antonio is quite interested in Marcin "Polish Hammer" Gortat, so perhaps he'll be lining up alongside Tim Duncan next season. Or they've decided Ian Mahimi is ready to get medieval on the NBA.
Either way, it's a good move for the Spurs, who mostly risk bounced paychecks, since Jefferson is owed another 29 mil through 2011. Manu Ginobli can remain a sixth man without leaving the starting five punchless, and Jefferson provides insurance should the Argentinian get injured, which unfortunately has been a given of late. I don't think this leapfrogs Mr. Eva Longoria and co. ahead of the Lakers as Western Conference favorites, but they're definitely better. Probably a lot better.
Also, a bit of Laker news. Over at the Lakers.com Basketblog, Mike Trudell did a quickie poddy with Mitch Kupchak about the draft. Most of the discussion isn't earth shattering, but he did reveal the team's intentions- save a last minute turn of events- to exercise options on DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell and that they expect to carry thirteen players next season. Assuming that baker's dozen includes Trevor Ariza, Shannon Brown and Lamar Odom, that means one current Laker wouldn't be in the mix. I'm guessing it's Sun Yue, since he's the easiest to remove and most expendable. But we shall see.
And finally, another close buddy of Walton's is a smart... wait for it... Cookie. Here's a decision tough to see coming.