Although Jefferson was set to earn $10 million in 2018-19, per Spotrac, only $4 million was guaranteed. According to Smith, the Pacers could potentially use the stretch provision to spread that $4 million salary-cap hit over multiple seasons.
Jefferson fell to third in the depth chart at center behind Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, so releasing him makes sense for the Pacers, even though they have to assume $4 million in dead money.
ESPN's Bobby Marks noted how Indiana was a bit of a wild card in terms of how much money it could spend this offseason:
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Pacers agreed to a three-year, $22 million deal with Doug McDermott, which eats into their available funds. Shedding Jefferson's contract gives general manager Chad Buchanan and team president Kevin Pritchard a little more flexibility.
Although Jefferson loses out on $6 million, he can potentially gain that back either this offseason or with his performance in 2018-19 before becoming a free agent again next summer.
Jefferson averaged a career-low 13.4 minutes in 36 appearances for the Pacers in 2017-18, and his role wouldn't have grown next year without an injury to Turner or Sabonis. Now, he has the opportunity to take a short-term deal with a team for whom he can feature more regularly.