If we're to work from the premise of Murphy's law ("Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."), Richard Jefferson's on his way out the door and the Spurs have nothing to show for it: no cap room, no sign and trade in place, nothing. The Spurs have been left high-and-dry without the means to find or acquire a comparable replacement, at least talent-wise.
If Spurs are left with nothing to show for Jefferson, the Spurs will then be left with the Bi- Annual Exception (roughly $2 million) to find a suitable replacement at the small forward position-- due to Tiago Splitter receiving most, if not all, of the Mid-Level Exception.
Because of how powerful and true Murphy's law can be, Reigning Black will dissect the realistic options that should be available for the LLE (Bi-Annual Exception).
Small-Forwards that should be available for the LLE (Bi- Annual Exception):
Dorell Wright (24 years old) - 6'9" Small forward, who has spent his first 6 years with the Miami Heat. Last season, Wright had one of his best years averaging 7.1 points per game on 46% shooting and 39% shooting from three in just 20 minutes per game. Wright is a better than average spot up shooter, who has the ability to create off the dribble from the triple threat position, specifically when the opposition closes out hard on rotations. Defensively, he has the athletic and physical tools to be a capable defender, but the jury is still out on this aspect. Perhaps some coaching from one of the best defensive coaches in the game can help.
Matt Barnes (30 years old)- 6'7" small forward, who has spent all of his 7 years being the prototypical NBA nomad, signing with a different NBA team every year. Last year he averaged 8.8 points, on 49% shooting and 32% shooting from the three point line, in 25 minutes per game for the Orlando Magic. Defensively, Barnes has demonstrated a competitive fire and aggression on the defensive end for years, taking on the responsibility of guarding the opposition's best wing offensive weapon on a nightly basis. This competitive, defensive approach should make Barnes a likely candidate for the LLE. Spurs aren't going to find a much better defensive player with the money that's available.
Rasual Butler (31 years old)- A 6'7" small forward, Butler has played 8 seasons in the league with the Heat, Hornets and Clippers-- averaging 11.9 points per game, on 41% shooting and 34% from the three point line, in 33 minutes of action per game last season. Butler is a good spot-up shooter from the perimeter, which should be valued given the amount of spot-up opportunities that will be available; due to the high volume of Ginobili and Parker pick and roll plays. His defense is average, although he has significant length (7'0" wing span) to contest shots and deflect passes in passing lanes.
James Jones ( 29 years old)- A 6'8" small forward, who has spent his last 7 seasons with the Pacers, Suns and Heat. In the past 3 seasons, Jones has been injured significantly and has only managed to play in 134 games out of the past 246 games (only 76 games in the past two seasons). Even though Jones is one of the best three point shooters available, the Spurs shouldn't make Jones a priority because they need a durable and dependable option for this significant spot in the starting line-up-- the Spurs would be wise to look elsewhere.
Jarvis Hayes (29 years old)- A 6'8" small forward, who has spent his last 7 years with the Wizards, Pistons and Nets. Last year averaged 7.8 points per game, on 42 % shooting and 34% shooting from the 3 point line, in 23 minutes of action per game. A good spot up shooter and an underrated on-ball defender. Not necessarily the most active defender off the ball, but with the LLE available the Spurs could certainly do worse.
Damien Wilkins (30 years old) - A 6'6" small forward, who has spent his last 6 seasons with the Sonics (Thunder) and T-Wolves. Last year, Wilkins had a sub-par year from distance but still managed to average 5.6 points per game, on 43% shooting and 29% shooting from distance, in 20 minutes per game. Wilkins is probably one of the most underrated defenders in the league and is a capable shooter from distance, where he shot 38% from three just a year ago.
Other Notable Free Agent Small-Forwards --Most likely out of the Spurs price range ( unrealistic; long shots for LLE/ Bi Annual Exception):
- Travis Outlaw - (Market value should be between 4-6 million per year)
- Mike Miller - (Market value should be between 4-8 million a year; maybe willing to agree on 3 million if team is in contention for title.)
- Ryan Gomes - (Market value should be between 3-5 million a year)
- Ronnie Brewer - ( Market value should be between 3-5 million a year)
- Antony Morrow (more of a SG) - (Restricted; meaning Warriors have the option to match any deal proposed to Morrow; cheap LLE won't be able to pry him away.)
- LeBron James- (enough said)