Richard Jefferson is still on the San Antonio Spurs roster, and likely for the remainder of the season due to several other forwards choosing to sign with other teams.
Former Mavericks and Wizards forward Josh Howard seemed to be closest to signing with the Spurs after several players, including Caron Butler, Vince Carter, Grant Hill and Reggie Williams signed with the Clippers, Mavs, Suns and Bobcats.
Clearly, a defensive-minded player like Howard who made a trip to the finals and several trips to the playoffs with Dallas seemed like a natural fit for the Spurs. However, Howard decided a colder climate and playing for a sub .500 team was the best fit, according to an interview he had with SI.com.
SI.com: Why Utah?
Howard: It was really looking back at my years playing in the NBA and coming to Utah, and seeing that home-court advantage they had, as far as the fans coming out and supporting them nonstop. And I know guys here will play hard 24-7. To top it all off, Devin Harris is here, and he’s in a contract year, so you know he’s going to give it his all. [Editor’s note: Harris has two years left on his contract.] I also know Al Jefferson pretty well and I’m excited to play with him.
While I’m sure he’s correct about his comments on Utah, the Spurs are very much loved in San Antonio, and being the city’s only professional sports team, fan support has never been an issue. As for guys playing hard, what else would you expect out of a team that has won four championships and is led by Gregg Popovich?
So aside from not having Devin Harris, what was it about San Antonio that made him choose not to suit up for the silver and black.
SI.com: Why not the Spurs? They are a contender, and they have a possible opening at small forward if they use the amnesty provision on Richard Jefferson. Did you have a direct conversation with them about whether they would do that if you signed?
Howard: It was ultimately about Utah and the right fit. San Antonio is a great organization and had me come in for a workout as well.
Likely due to my journalism background, I can smell a canned answer or a dodged question a mile away. That last answer seems to be an artful combination of the two, but regardless of how well I think he could have fit in with the Spurs, especially after I hoped they would draft him in 2003, Howard is on his way to Salt Lake City to stay.
As for his workout in San Antonio, Howard said the Spurs wanted to see his single-leg jump and took his measurements.
With the Howard signing, the Spurs still have Jefferson, Kawhi Leonard and James Anderson that can play small forward. Andrei Kirilenko will likely be available now due to Howard’s arrival in Utah, and Nick Young and the Wizards seem far apart in contract negotiations, but both are likely out of the Spurs’ range with several sub .500 teams willing to overpay and outbid any other suitors.