Knicks insist they never made contract offer that reportedly pushed Richard Jefferson into retirement

Jack Baer
Was Richard Jefferson joking about retiring because the Knicks were the only team that would take him? (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

The New York Knicks were having a bad enough time in 2019 with a paltry record of 4-13 and rumors already circling about their coach being on the chopping block.

And then Richard Jefferson, the color commentator for the crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets, publicly claimed he chose to retire rather than play for the Knicks, reportedly the only team that offered him a contract.

That indignation caused the Knicks to send out a public clarification that, no, they did not offer Jefferson a contract in the summer of 2018 or 2019.

Jefferson announced his retirement in October 2018. He soon joined YES Network as a Nets analyst, but announced in July 2019 that he intended to come out of retirement. Judging from the fact that he is still in the broadcast booth, he probably didn’t see much interest.

A 17-year NBA veteran, Jefferson played only 163 minutes during his final season spent with the Denver Nuggets. Despite being a well-respected locker-room presence, demand for Jefferson’s skills at age 37 would have still been low.

Jefferson claimed that the Knicks made him an offer, which would have likely been in 2018 if true, judging from how he recounts the story.

You could wonder if Jefferson was joking simply to clown on the Knicks, a treasured basketball pastime, but that possibility went out the window when Jefferson’s broadcast partner immediately asked if it was a true story and the veteran responded affirmatively.

Regardless of who is telling the truth here, we already have one of the sillier basketball feuds of the season.

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