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News » Stabilizing force Jefferson had solid impact in one-year stay with Bucks

Stabilizing force Jefferson had solid impact in one-year stay with Bucks

Stabilizing force  Jefferson had solid impact in one-year stay with Bucks By CHARLES F. GARDNER

San Antonio - Richard Jefferson made a brief stopover in Milwaukee, playing one season for the Bucks .

But the 6-foot-7 forward still delivered a strong impression while starting all 82 games before being traded to San Antonio during the past off-season.

The trade had more to do with the economic realities of the National Basketball Association and the $29 million remaining on his contract than it did with Jefferson's abilities.

On Monday night, Jefferson will go against his former team for the first time since the June 23 trade, which Bucks general manager John Hammond used to gain financial flexibility while picking up three new players as a direct result of the deal.

Jefferson and the Spurs are off to a sluggish start with a 5-6 record, but the trade still could help the Texas franchise threaten the defending league champion Los Angeles Lakers and stay competitive in a rugged Western Conference.

"I think it gives another scoring option for them," Bucks guard Charlie Bell said. "They've got Tim Duncan, (Manu) Ginobili and Tony Parker and sometimes you can key on a couple of those guys. Now you put him (Jefferson) in the mix and it just makes them that much stronger."

San Antonio is winless on the road (0-4) thus far. But the Spurs ended a three-game losing streak with a 106-84 rout of the Washington Wizards on Saturday night at the AT&T Center.

Instead of playing alongside Jefferson, Bell will be defending him for at least part of the night Monday.

"He's a guy who attacks the basket and is going to create for others," Bell said. "And he knocks down open shots.

"He gets to the hole some type of way and he draws fouls. I'm looking forward to playing against him and I hope he's not going to have an easy night."

Jefferson had played his entire career with the New Jersey Nets before being traded to the Bucks in the summer of 2008. Forwards Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons went to the Nets in the deal, one of Hammond's first moves after being hired as general manager.

At first, Jefferson expressed some reluctance about the trade. But he insisted it wasn't anything about the Bucks but rather his shock at leaving the pro team that had drafted him and nurtured his career.

He was part of a Big Three in New Jersey with point guard Jason Kidd and forward Vince Carter. Kidd was dealt to Dallas a few months before Jefferson was traded, and the breakup was complete this summer when Carter was traded to Orlando.

"He had been to the (NBA) Finals and played with a great point guard in Jason Kidd and with Vince Carter," Bell said. "When he spoke, the other guys listened because he's been there."

Forward Kurt Thomas came from the Spurs in the Jefferson deal, along with Bruce Bowen and Fabricio Oberto. Hammond released Bowen for the savings on his contract and immediately turned Oberto into Amir Johnson, who was in Milwaukee briefly before going to Toronto for forward Carlos Delfino and point guard Roko Ukic.

"Richard shoots the ball and he can get to the line," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "He's got a lot of things he can bring to the game.

"He did a nice job in helping us hold it together when everybody went down. He had to step up and have some big games for us and he did."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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