TORONTO - The San Antonio Spurs seemed poised to replace one small forward with another.
Reports surfaced on Wednesday that the Spurs would make Richard Jefferson the first victim of the new collective bargaining agreement’s amnesty clause.
Jefferson would still be paid the $30 million US remaining on his contract, but it would come off of the cap and allow the Spurs to add Caron Butler for a contract starting at $5 million a season (Jefferson was due $9 million in 2011-12).
San Antonio previously convinced Jefferson to opt out of the final massive year of his old contract in order to take a longer deal, which they now appear to be ready to amnesty.
Butler, who was injured and unable to suit up for the Dallas Mavericks as they marched through the playoffs to the championship last season, is apparently a favourite of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
He played only 29 regular season contests due to a ruptured tendon in his knee.
Butler visited with the team on Wednesday and tweeted afterwards:
“Just met with Spurs great visit first class all the way.”
When healthy, Butler is a productive player at both ends of the court.
He has already met with Chicago and the Los Angeles Clippers and was expected to also consider the Detroit Pistons and New Jersey Nets.
Dallas seems unlikely to retain either Butler or Tyson Chandler in an effort to maximize cap space for a 2012 free agent class that could include Dallas native Deron Williams.
T-MAC TO THE HAWKS
Tracy McGrady is on his way to Atlanta, according to ESPN.
It won’t become official until Friday, but McGrady is expected to accept a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum.
He could replace Jamal Crawford, who is expected to leave via free agency.
DEAL COMING SOON
Raptors president/general manager Bryan Colangelo said he expects the new collective bargaining agreement to be ratified on Thursday, with training camps and player transactions starting the next day.
Colangelo said the Raptors will pursue a small forward (since Linas Kleiza is not yet ready to return), a third point guard and a big man or two, likely centres.
AROUND THE RIM
The Warriors apparently are balking at including Stephen Curry in a trade for Chris Paul, unless Paul will sign with the club long-term ... Former Raptor Jason Kapono will ink a one-year deal with the Lakers on Friday for the veteran’s minimum, according to Yahoo! Sports. Kapono is one of the best three-point shooters in the league but inexplicably rarely attempts long-range shots … Sacramento has hired ex-Raptors assistant Jim Todd while former Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell has been shifted from Avery Johnson’s bench to a scouting role with New Jersey … When asked whether fellow Brazilian Nene would be joining the Raptors via free agency, a laughing Leandro Barbosa replied to this scribe: “No man, it’s too cold for him” … Off-season screening for performance-enhancing drugs has been added to the CBA. Players will now be tested up to two times during the off-season, but not for drugs such as marijuana.