Richard Jefferson Announces Return to Cavaliers Despite Confirming Retirement

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured Columnist

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson catches a pass during warmups before Game 4 of basketball's NBA Finals after the game in Cleveland, Friday, June 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

Celebrating a championship victory is turning out to be good news in many ways for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who will have Richard Jefferson back after he said he would be retiring.

Per Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, Jefferson told the crowd in Cleveland watching the Cavs'Β parade on June 22 that he will "play one more year." On Tuesday, Chris Mannix of The Vertical reported that Jefferson isn't just coming back for next season but plans to play two or three more years.

After the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors on Sunday in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Jefferson said he was going to walk away with a championship. He also talked about what LeBron James meant to him.

"To be able to get on a team and walk in with a guy that says he's going to be able to carry you and bring me here, I owe everything, every shot, every play, everything I've ever done to [LeBron]," Jefferson told Fox Sports Ohio (via the Associated Press).

The 36-year-old Jefferson was quick to backtrack on his retirement comments, though, saying on The Dan Patrick Show (via Andrew Perloff of Sports Illustrated) that it was "not set in stone."

Jefferson's return marked the second piece of good roster news the Cavaliers received Wednesday.

James told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com before the team's parade that he wasn't leaving:

I love it here. I love being here. I love my teammates. Obviously my agent will take care of all the logistical things, but I'm happy. I've got no plans to go nowhere at this point.

While James is clearly the star of the show in Cleveland, Jefferson turned into one of head coach Tyronn Lue's most trusted assets off the bench in the NBA Finals. He played at least 24 minutes in five of the seven games and played strong perimeter defense against the Warriors shooters.

Jefferson is the kind of player every team needs and is so hard to find. His offensive skills aren't what they once were, but he's still playing with a level of energy and intensity on both sides of the ball that makes him beloved and respected by teammates and fans.

There's no reason for Jefferson not to come back after the series he just had and with the Cavaliers built to compete for championships for the foreseeable future.


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