Charlotte Hornets And Al Jefferson


Big Al Tells The Charlotte Hornets He Has No Plans To Opt Out

The Al Jefferson question has been looming over the last part of the 2014-14 season, as the big guy has endured an injury plagued season.

However, when he has played, he has still been the most effective offensive force on the roster. More than that, Al Jefferson has also played hurt, and played through pain in order to try to help his team in its quest for the playoffs.

When you add up everything that has happened in Jefferson’s season with the Hornets, you still are not sure of his exact worth. Given his looming opt-out, Hornets fans and management were probably leery of what it might take to bring him back next year.

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Well, today, Jefferson dispelled any rumors that he might opt out and seek a better deal wherever he could get it. Big Al told the Charlotte Observer he has no plans of opting-out:

"“I’ve got unfinished business here. That’s not even an option for me,” Jefferson said as the team closed the book on a 33-49 season. “Unless something dramatic changed, I can’t see myself opting out, and leaving that bad taste in my mouth. And in the Charlotte Hornets’ mouth. I can’t walk away from that.”"

Jefferson went on to say that he was disappointed in his season, and that the responsibility for missing the playoffs was on him. Those are big words, and ones that should endear Jefferson to the fans of this team.

Big Al seems determined to up his level of play, even if he still played very well. Yes, his number may have dipped this year:


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Generated 4/17/2015.

Yet, that is still an effective, efficient player. Especially for someone who is on one of the worst shooting teams in the entire NBA. Big Al just missed being a 20-10 guy, per 36 minutes, which would put him in elite company. Yes, you would like the big guy to get to the free throw line more often, and while his rebounds declined this year, his blocks went up and his turnovers went down.

Jefferson would undoubtedly command a high salary on the open market, probably more than the $13,833,333 he will make in 2015-16. So the fact that he is going to stay in Charlotte another season is surprising.

Even more surprising is that Jefferson, after two straight seasons where he has ended the campaign in poor health, says he is going to take his conditioning more seriously this summer, hoping to lose 20-25 pounds:

"“I’ve been playing at 285 to 287 (pounds) for five years and it’s catching up to me. I’m going to have to drop some weight to take pressure off my knees,” Jefferson said."

Honestly, this is fantastic news. Big Al really does seem determined to have a career year in 2015-16, both as a way to increase his value in a contract year, and to redeem himself to this organization.

More than that, waiting until next year to hit free agency is also a smart business move. The NBA salary cap is set to have a record jump at the start of the 2016-16 league year, due to a big increase in the money coming in from the NBA’s national television deals.

This means that virtually every team in the association will have a boatload of cap space that summer, giving a borderline All-Star like Jefferson a perfect opportunity to cash in on one last mega deal.

Big Al will be 31 that summer, and if he has a good year for the Hornets next season, then he may have multiple suitors desperate for someone to take their cash.

So yeah, praise Jefferson for recognizing that this year did not go as planned, and for his plan to re-dedicate himself to basketball over the summer. He seems genuinely disappointed in how the year went.

But do not forget that basketball is big business, and waiting until next summer to hit free agency is the smart move. This is a win-win for both Jefferson and the Hornets. Charlotte gets a hungry man in Jefferson to lead them in their quest to return to the playoffs, and Jefferson gets a guaranteed paycheck while he fantasizes about the deal he might be offered a little over a year from now.

Next: Hornets Five Best Games