Bobcats Pay Up To Nab Jefferson

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From NBA.com staff reports

In a potentially perception-altering move for one of the NBA’s most moribund franchises, the Charlotte Bobcats reached a verbal agreement Wednesday with one of the most sought-after big men after Dwight Howard, Utah’s Al Jefferson, who agreed to a three-year, $40.5 million deal.

The 28-year-old Jefferson was Charlotte’s top priority in free agency, as the Bobcats sought to finally find a low-post presence that would help their perimeter players get move driving and shooting space.

Jefferson will receive $13.5 million in each of the three seasons of the contract. He will have a player option for the third season.

The Bobcats, according to a source, will amnesty forward Tyrus Thomas in order to create enough cap room to sign Jefferson, who will, along with first-round pick Cody Zeller, give Charlotte a bolstered frontcourt next season, along with second-year small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Last season, Byron Mullens (when healthy) was the de facto starting center for Charlotte, notching 41 starts in 53 games played. But the Bobcats also gave playing time in the middle to second-year big man Bismack Biyombo as well as veterans Thomas, Brendan Haywood, DeSagana Diop and Josh McRoberts.

The Bobcats are finally free of Diop, a monumental bust who played in just 92 games over the past four seasons after Charlotte took him off the Dallas’ Mavericks’ hands, and they did not make a qualifying offer to Mullens, setting the forward-center free.

Haywood and Biyombo, who started 65 games last year and will enter his third season, are both on the books at bargain rates for next season. Charlotte signed Haywood before last season after Dallas used the amnesty clause to release him. He’ll be paid $2.05 million by the Bobcats next season. McRoberts is an unrestricted free agent.

The 6-foot-10, 289-pound Jefferson is a low-post tactician on the offensive end, but he certainly is no Bill Russell on the defensive end. He averaged 17.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg and 1.1 bpg last season with the Jazz.

Acquired by Utah from Minnesota in a July, 2010 trade, Jefferson could be the kind of acquisition for Charlotte that Vlade Divac was for Sacramento in 1998, when he left the Charlotte Hornets for the Kings in a free agent deal. With Divac aboard and Chris Webber coming from Washington, the Kings turned their up-to-then terrible fortunes around, becoming one of the league’s most exciting teams.

Charlotte has a way to go to get to that level, but Jefferson’s presence will make things easier for everyone. Averaging 16.4 ppg over nine NBA seasons, Jefferson has never shot less than 49.2 percent from the floor. He offers a creative low-post game that utilizes both hands along with an improved jumper.

Now with four centers on the roster for next season, it will be interesting to see Bobcats owner Michael Jordan’s next move is in a possible attempt to thin out the position and seek help elsewhere for the club.

Jordan has been criticized for poor drafts and seeming unwillingness in recent years to spend money, but in signing Jefferson and eating the final two years and $18 million of Thomas’s contract, Jordan is making a significant investment in trying to turn around the Bobcats’ fortunes. They’ve been the worst team in the league the last two years, with a combined 28-120 record, including a 7-59 season in the Lottery-shortened 2011-12 campaign.

Jefferson averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds last season for the Jazz, who could also lose their other free agent big man, Paul Millsap. The two sides met in the opening minutes of free agency on Monday but Utah did not make an offer to Millsap.

NBA.com’s Jeff Caplan and TNT analyst David Aldridge contributed to this report

43 Comments

  1. […] a move that surprised many in the early stages of the offseason given the reported amount Charlotte would p… and how it might help reverse the fortunes of a franchise that has often been stuck in hard times. […]

  2. pianky says:

    Bynum did play doing the 2009 Championship. His minutes he played hurt was instrumental for the Lakers winning the championship. Gasol is too soft. I am a Laker fan.

  3. […] to NBA.com, the Charlotte Bobcats reached a verbal agreement for big man Al Jefferson, who agreed to a […]

  4. Andrew says:

    All they had to do was draft Noel or McLemore then sign Jefferson then go after JJ Hickson to play PF then you would have had jefferson, hickson, kiddgilchrist, mclemore, and walker. a pretty solid starting 5, but sadly they drafted zeller. plus MJ is cheap this will only be their biggest signing in franchise history and then will take another year or two to get more big fas.

    How ironic Kobe is fa in 2014 and could go to CHAR, but also i dont believe in Santa so lets leave it at that. :)

  5. Andrew says:

    Every dog eventually finds a bone. If MJ wants to follow up he’ll get a starting SG that can actually help out both ends of the court. Ellis would be perfect.

  6. […] to NBA.com, the Charlotte Bobcats reached a verbal agreement for big man Al Jefferson, who agreed to a […]

  7. DINKO says:

    wow mike Jordan might of actually gotten this one right ,he’s one of the best centers in the league and he’s very underrated , most likely because he’s spent most of his career in Utah and Minnesota . Wish my raptors would’ve nabbed him , he would be a good tutor for our young center Jonas valenciunas.

  8. CarstenLawson says:

    We’ll have to wait and see wether Zeller is going to have an immediate impact on the team but they definitely improved their roster with the actions taken so far. But still, I’m always wondering about the places big Al chooses… I bet there were some other teams luring him with a comparable paycheck. Nevertheless it’s a good move for the NBA, I hope to see more competitiveness around the league and more teams getting their franchise player!

  9. BEVAN says:

    HAWKS NEED TO SIGN J SMOOVE ,HARRIS, ZAZA IVAN, TEAGUE

  10. Scott says:

    I liked big al as a jazz fan. As good on the offensive end as he can be, major hole on defense. I think he’ll have good numbers on not great teams the rest of his career. He does’nt make teams winners

    • Jazz Fan says:

      I agree, Al is kind of like Carmello Anthony in a way. He can score, does score but cannot take the team very far. I think the Jazz did the right thing, the Jazz have flourished off of pick and roll plays in the past, when Utah acquired AL from Minny, our offense fell apart. Utah had to do a180 to fit the system around Al’s isolation game, this in turn ruined D-Willl’s pick n roll game, made him frustrated got coach Sloan to quit and shipped Deron to NJ. Utah is obviously trying to get back to their old style, hire back Sloan-check, get a true PG (Trey Burke) -check, get rid of AL- check, now Corbin needs to run some pick n rolls for Favors, Kanter, and Rudy Gobert? Go Jazz Nation!

  11. Beezy says:

    now if they manage to get Iggy…..

  12. SYDALE says:

    They might as well get Millsap too… and just have Zeller back up at C and PF, and learn from both of them…

  13. Great move by the Bobcats!

  14. Renzo says:

    Now the Bobcats are just one more good player behind from being relevant. They have cap space and many good free agents are still available.

  15. Pidorashka says:

    Now that’s a good move! Al is definitely worth every penny paid.

    When I’ve participated in some pickup games yesterday I talked to those guys whom I played with/against about MJ as an exec and ironically we all agreed on him being incapable of making strong exec moves that could potentially turn around his ever struggling Bobcats (or should I say ‘Hornets’ considering when and if they get their original name back?).

    This particular acquisition has proven us wrong and I’m not even disappointed about that. Hopefully it’s just a start of something bigger and better. I wish Mike all the best in his career as an executive.

  16. natan says:

    true but what about the jazz

  17. dqqdqqs says:

    good move by bobcats, should give them some confidence to do better next season:)

  18. J says:

    good for bobcats
    bad for jazz
    I hate it
    but the bobcats got themselves a terrific player

    damn it!!! should have went to a winning team (like the warriors for eg. that would be a good fit if they don’t get Dwight) or a team that with his help would jump to the next level like say the wizards or blazers or cavs

    but none the less good for the bobcats

  19. JSM28 says:

    don´t understand that!, A 9 year Veteran which only went to the Playoffs twice (total 11 games) joins the worst Team of the league! Was he getting nervious? He would have received offers from better Team as soon as Howard made his decision… maybe not for that much Money, but he would have been coming Close!

  20. actually this is a good move by bobcats look at they’re starters walker for pg,henderson in sg ,gilchrist in sf, and al jefferson can be a PF then byombo for C….they just need to improve the bench they need a veteran to mentor them and motivate them every game

  21. HonestGuy says:

    Weird season to pay up and improve the team, would’ve made sense to just let Zeller play and develop with no pressure, have the team sink, and then get a high draft pick.

    • cpthinde says:

      Nah, I see this to be very smart so hopefully Jefferson can teach the young guys on the team like Zeller and Byombo some low-post moves on offense and he is a proven veteran and he will have a lot of advice for the both of them, real good signing tho. They have the potential now to make the playoffs if they gel the right way.

    • BioMan says:

      Yeah..from that you can build a strong team, i think we will see a strong and matured bobcats team in 2 years..i see bobcats on the bottom again and get top draft picks again..but for now, its a good move for bobcats.. or they could trade and get a superstar that could carry the team like lebron james, dwane wade, carmelo anthony, kevin durant, dwight howard, etc…

  22. Jm says:

    Hopefully al jefferson will fit to the team. BobcAts need some guy to score.

  23. goran says:

    I don’t know what the bobcats or hornets are doing, why pay so much for a 28 year old center. They are trying to rebulidand I guess I thought they would be tanking this season for Andrew wiggins. I don’t this pickup was random as hell. Im surprised free agent actually want to go to charlotte tho

    • Kamil says:

      Andrew Wiggins is over rated. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone was drafted higher than him.

      I think they made the right move because they only gave him a 3 year deal. Another thing is, you don’t want to lose every season over and over again. When Larry Brown was there, they were a playoff team that has less talent that this current team. I my opinion its a good move. I think they should now try to compete for the 6-8 seeds and give it their best.

      They seem good on paper but I wonder how well they mesh. Either way, Jefferson is one of the best on the market.

  24. John says:

    Al is the truth! He started out with problems in his physical training, but all that is gone out the window. He’s dedicated now!

  25. John smart says:

    Finally a bobcat move that makes sense. Zeller, Jefferson , Gilchrist, Henderson and Walker actually looks like a team going in the right direction. It’s not playoff caliber but they should improve.

    • Rocket33 says:

      I agree. Al is solid if they can get him the ball in the post. Biyombo is still young and cheap enough on a rookie scale contract but Thomas had to go. He’s too old now to be considered a player with potential. The amnesty is throwing away money but it does give the other big guys a chance to play. Walker, Henderson and MKG should all get better together so things are somewhat looking up for the Bobcats. As an MJ fan, here’s to hoping.

      On another team, the Wizards are looking good. They got Beal last year and Otto Porter this year. The two players I liked watching the most in college the last two years. Now if they could find a way to get Thomas Robinson and call themselves the Bullets again I could almost jump fully on board.

      • Kamil says:

        I used to think Robinson was a great prospect coming out of Kansas, but what the hell happened to him?

        Is he becoming another Royce White?

  26. gudenfogh says:

    howard to dallas, and dallas will have ha strong team

  27. ThaGuyMohamed says:

    Bye, bye Wiggins…

  28. rdpinoy says:

    Good pick up! Hopefully Al won’t have a mysterious injury that would sideline him for the first 2yrs…. *knock on wood*

  29. rdpinoy says:

    Good pick up for them… hopefully Al doesn’t have a mysterious imjury that will sideline him the whole 2 years before he opts out.

    • Jazz Fan says:

      Al will be missed in Utah he is a hard worker. Honestly, I don’t see him getting injured, he works hard to condition his body and doesn’t do anything too crazy to get himself injured. Al can be unstoppable in the post, he has the best foot work in the NBA for his size. His only 2 negatives are his horrid pick and roll defense and he is an isolation player, which can cause some problems if the coach wants run and gun, ball moving team. Despite that, Al will draw double teams which will free up perimeter shooting. Best of luck to AL and hopefully we can see Favors and Kanter shine now in Utah.

  30. Kamote says:

    From the looks of it, it seems like MJ is preparing a team that he could play with LOL.

  31. theking0522 says:

    Well, the Lakers better get Howard now because Jefferson was the next great big man available after Howard. The Lakers are going NOWHERE with Gasoft as the only big man in the team.

    • Gasol is NOT Soft….and going NOWHERE with him as their C? Really? How about that back to back championships 2 years ago?

    • Skolimowski says:

      Didn’t they win 2 championships like “Gasoft” as the best big man in the team?

    • theking0522 says:

      You guys are dumb or what? They CANNOT win with Gasoft as the only big man. What part of that don’t you understand? Gasoft had Bynum with him in his first seasons with the Lakers. He has not win a championship as the ONLY big man in the team. He has always had another 7 footer next to him. Bynum and Howard last season. If he is the only 7 footer in the team, the Lakers are going nowhere. Gasol is SOFT

      • ODS says:

        You obviously didn’t watch the 2009 Finals. Bynum barely played. Gasol was much more of a factor. Check basketballreference. Even better, watch some NBA games. Anyway, get your facts straight before posting and telling people they are dumb.