On Saturday afternoon, the Milwaukee Bucks announced that they requested waivers on veteran guard Gerald Green. That move came just one day after the team cut Gary Payton II, Joel Anthony and Brandon Rush. Considering how those cuts trimmed the team’s roster to 15 players, it seemed reasonable to expect that Green would start the season within Milwaukee’s rotation. However, that wasn’t meant to be.
Although that move was initially looked at as a mystery, it quickly started to make sense as the day went by. Around five hours after the team officially waived Green, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin reported that the Bucks stood as “serious suitors” for veteran forward Richard Jefferson. While there are several teams interested in the 37-year-old, ESPN noted that there was mutual interest between him and the Bucks organization. The veteran became available after the Atlanta Hawks waived Jefferson immediately after acquiring him in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The interest between Jefferson and the Bucks organization makes sense for a variety of different reasons. For one, the veteran forward has a long friendship with head coach Jason Kidd that dates back to when they were teammates with the Nets from 2001 until 2008. During those seven years, the duo helped push the team to two consecutive NBA Finals appearances during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. Alongside that, they helped lead Team USA to a gold medal during the 2003 FIBA Americas Championship.
Aside from his relationship with Kidd, Jefferson would be a solid fit for the Bucks from both an off and on-court perspective.
Away from the court, the 37-year-old would immediately stand alongside Jason Terry as a great veteran mentor to younger Bucks players such as Thon Maker, D.J. Wilson, Sterling Brown or even Rashad Vaughn. Even looking away from the young Bucks, Jefferson can impart some of the knowledge that he gained from going to four NBA Finals. While that may not seem like much, it can be a solid asset for a Bucks squad that’s trying to make that leap from a fun League Pass watch to a possible Eastern Conference contender.
While Jefferson’s best days are definitely behind him, the veteran forward can still be a productive on-court presence. That was most recently evident during his stint with the Cavaliers as he honestly stood as one of their best bench weapons. On a night-by-night basis, he was able to give a solid 15-20 minutes per game where he’d play solid D while also nailing the occasional corner 3. Last year, Jefferson shot 38% on corner 3’s, which remained right around the league average.
Perhaps more important than that, Jefferson always showed up with the lights were brightest, especially when those games were against the Warriors. Any time that they played Golden State, Jefferson was just able to regularly make the biggest plays. Back in the 2016 NBA Finals, he did a great job of locking down the team’s slew of offensive weapons. More recently, Jefferson was on absolute fire during the Cavs Christmas Day matchup against the reigning champs, as he threw down huge dunks on both Klay Thompson.
And Kevin Durant.
When he doesn’t dunk on NBA All-Stars on a game-by-game basis, Jefferson could still be a helpful on-court presence due to his defensive versatility and knack with hitting the corner 3. Those traits should give him a nice role within the Bucks 2nd unit as he’ll share minutes with Mirza Teletovic and D.J Wilson.
Even if there are games where he doesn’t play, he can still be a valuable asset as someone that can basically work as another assistant coach that can give advice to the other fourteen players that are rocking a Bucks jersey.
As a 37-year-old forward that’s likely entering his final season in the NBA, I believe those aforementioned tools should allow Richard Jefferson to be a beneficial player for the Milwaukee Bucks during the upcoming season.