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Three former Arizona Wildcats on the move at NBA trade deadline

Richard Jefferson

Richard Jefferson will now by shooting for the Golden State Warriors. Photo by Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

A trio of former Arizona Wildcats will be wearing new uniforms after a flurry of trades at the NBA trade deadline.

The Los Angeles Lakers lost an ex-Cat when they traded forward Luke Walton to the Cleveland Cavaliers in order to address their need at point guard. The Cavs sent Ramon Sessions and wing Christian Eyenga to L.A. The key piece going back to Cleveland was a first-round 2012 draft pick.

Walton, 31 and bothered by injuries through much of his nine-year career, has played in only nine games this season. He has career averages of 4.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

The Lakers then sent veteran point guard Derek Fisher and a conditional draft pick to Houston for ex-UA forward Jordan Hill, who is in his third season in the NBA, averaging 5.0 points and 4.8 rebounds this season.

And former UA forward Richard Jefferson is on the move from San Antonio to Golden State, which is a drop of about 10 games in the Western Conference standings.

The Spurs sent Jefferson and a conditional first-round pick for veteran wing Stephen Jackson, who also has an Arizona connection. He signed with the Arizona Wildcats out of high school but failed to qualify academically.

Jackson helped the Spurs win the NBA title in 2003, and this report from the San Antonio Express-News says that coach Gregg Popovich “has long valued his defensive toughness and outside shooting ability.”

Jefferson, in two-plus years with the Spurs, hasn’t been able to recreate the scoring averages he had earlier in his career with New Jersey. He had to adjust to more of a spot-up shooting role with San Antonio after previously relying more on his athleticism to penetrate and score.

Jefferson averaged 9.2 points and shot 42.1 percent from behind the arc this season.

“Now it’s tough to even get shots because teams don’t want to leave me open,” Jefferson said on Jim Rome’s radio show last month. “That’s a credit to all the people that have worked with me and helped me throughout the years.”

Jefferson did say that his adjustment in San Antonio — including tempering his on-court emotions — “hasn’t been easy.” He added: “There have been some tough nights. I know Pop has probably lost a little bit of sleep on a couple of nights trying to figure out the best way to get me going.”

Now, he’s just going.

Jefferson, 31, has a career average of 16.0 points per game.

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