Yes, Al Jefferson – who may have peaked five years in Minnesota when he averaged 23 points and 11 rebounds a game – is going to get about $14 million per year (player option for the 3rd year, but of course he’s going to take it). So Jefferson, 28, will be making more money than other forward/centers like Joakim Noah ($12 million next season, then $13 million in 2014-2015) and Al Horford ($12 million each of the next three years).
[PREVIOUSLY: Al Jefferson Has a Huge Bed]
I’m sure this deal will be widely destroyed, as Jefferson – who barely plays defense and rarely gets to the foul line – isn’t worth $14 million. If I were the GM of the Bobcats, I wouldn’t have given Jefferson anything in the vicinity of $14 million a year.
Nevertheless, I’ll try to defend the deal:
1) What were Charlotte’s other options at center? It could have just gone with the underwhelming duo of Haywood/Biyombo again, which is arguably one of the worst at the position in the league. Biyombo only turns 21 in August, but is still a couple years away from being a 35-minute a night factor.
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2) Their 1st round pick of Cody Zeller was pilloried by folks who only watched the NCAA tournament. It wouldn’t shock me if he averaged double figures scoring as a rookie. Putting him next to an established big man will certainly help. As of this moment – we’ll see if the Bobcats do something else crazy, like give Monta Ellis big bucks – Zeller will probably only be the 3rd most scrutinized player on the team behind Big Al and MKG. I think he’ll surprise a lot of folks as a rookie.
3) The addition of Jefferson does not add 10 potential wins to this franchise. In fact, I’d say Charlotte is still firmly in the mix for the worst record in the league (with Sacramento and Milwaukee) in the race for Andrew Wiggins. And here’s a guess on Jefferson: When surrounded by nothing in Minnesota, he actually put up two very good years (21-11, 23-11), then tore his ACL and seemingly lost all of his explosiveness. He has to know that what he does in the next two years could lead to one more big contract. I don’t see why he can’t have another year or two of being a 20-10 guy under new coach Steve Clifford, who knows big men: he was an assistant coach in Houston with Yao Ming, and then in Orlando with Dwight Howard.
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