Color me surprised. In my defense, I will say that I had thought it a possibility all along. I recall during the drive back from a post xmas and pre new year game that I told Graydon I thought he could opt out. Graydon told me I was full of it. I gave him my logic for thinking it was possible. Graydon told me I was full of it. I concurred.

Yet, here we are and RJ has opted out for the very reasons I thought he might. Wait. Honestly, I'm not sure why he opted out. It could be for a couple of reasons.

WHY Little 8 oz Baby Jesus?

(That's a reference to the little 8 lb baby Jesus part of Ricky Bobby. But, I somehow twisted it into ounces when I told it to Mrs ATS and it cracked -- and cracks -- her up.)

I think RJ opting out comes down to two possible explanations. One, he and his agent think he can secure a multi-year deal at $8-10M per year. Something like 5 years at $8M. And, he wants to make a grab at locking up this contract before the lockout next summer. THAT is a reasonable guess. I'm a bit skeptical that he can command that type of contract, but Rudy Gay is getting $16M/year for 5 years. WHAT? Yeah, that's the report. Drew Gooden 5 years and $32M. John Salmons 5 years and $40M.

Given those numbers, I guess 4 years at $32M is really not unreasonable for RJ. Additionally, a contract like that would justify his opting out. It's like adding a 3 year deal for $17M after next year. That might be more than he could get after the lockout.

ORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR....he hates playing with the Spurs. Hate is a strong word. Let's just say maybe he was unhappy. I'm on the record saying he looked unhappy. I'm on the record saying Tim looked unhappy with him. Maybe it was too frustrating and a this is a way for him to grab onto some happiness for himself. I'd respect that.

Trade Bait?

Um, no. RJ opting out pretty much ends any chances the Spurs can trade him. I suppose there is a remote chance they could sign-and-trade him. But, if they sign him, nobody is going to trade for him. Moderately productive guys in the first year of long-term deals aren't exactly a commodity.

The Truth Will Be Told

If RJ hadn't opted out, we would have had constant rumors all season about whether he will be traded. Well, constant right up until the time it happened. We would have speculated on how he was fitting into the system. We would have kept a close eye on the whole "second year" progress. We would have analyzed all Pop's comments to see if he was happy with RJ. Not now. Now, we'll know up front. If the Spurs re-sign RJ it is because they want him. If they don't, well, it's because it wasn't a good fit.

Yep, we'll know soon enough. For better or for worse, RJ opting out will end the mystery and forces the parties to declare their intent. And frankly, that's a good thing.

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