The Brooklyn Nets have a decision to make. Cory Jefferson is due $150k from his partially guaranteed deal on July 15, and with forward depth not a problem on the roster, Jefferson is currently a candidate to be let go.
After being drafted 60th overall, a lot went against Jefferson, but he continued to prove doubters wrong and gained a roster spot with Brooklyn. During last season, Jefferson appeared in games for both the Nets and the Maine Red Claws. In Brooklyn, Jefferson played in 50 games with 1 start and averaged 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game while shooting 45% from the field. He averaged 10.6 minutes per contest.
The numbers aren’t bad for his limited playing time, and Jefferson did excel after Mirza Teletovic went down with injury. He did so well, I actually wrote an article about his emergence as a role player.
Jefferson was a solid contributor and even produced a few highlights plays last season, including this one.
While all this is well and good, the Nets have much more forward/center depth than they do last year. This is what the Nets current depth chart looks like this:
Power Forward: Thaddeus Young, Thomas Robinson, Chris McCullough, Cory Jefferson
Center: Brook Lopez, Willie Reed
Robinson will see some minutes at the five, while Reed can also slide down to the four, but really there is a lot of depth behind Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez, and Jefferson would be the one to go.
However, it would not make sense to cut Jefferson. McCullough is coming off a torn ACL, and as we have seen with many other basketball players, the recovery process of that injury can be tough. The Syracuse product’s projected return in November, but he may not be at 100 percent by then, and that would thrust Jefferson into a more prominent role.
It is also important to note Lopez’s injury history. If Lopez were to go down with an injury, which is possible, Robinson would then play most if not all his minutes at center. If McCullough is still struggling alongside Lopez’s injury, Jefferson would be thrust into the backup power forward role.
While this is all hypothetical, the scenario is not that far out there, and it would be wise to keep Jefferson around. To add on, Jefferson’s trade value is minimal. Teams wouldn’t give up a second round pick for Jefferson, so Brooklyn would simply have to cut him.
Jefferson brings some youth and athleticism to the Nets, and with injuries a concern in the Nets’ frontcourt, the Nets would be wise to keep the former Baylor Bear around.