Al Jefferson, one of best available talents on the open market this summer, has signed a deal with the Charlotte Bobcats.
UPDATE: Wednesday, July 10, at 1:33 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Jefferson signed his official contract on Wednesday, per the Bobcats' Twitter:
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According to ESPN's Marc Stein on Twitter, the veteran big man signed a three-year, $40.5 million deal, with an option for the third year.
Al Jefferson is heading to Charlotte on three-year deal worth estimated$41 million with opt out after Year 2, sources tell ESPN— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 4, 2013
TNT's David Aldridge was quick to correct Stein's contract figures.
Slight correction: Jefferson's deal is $40.5 million for three years, not $41.5 million #carrytheone— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 4, 2013
Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports on how the deal will work under the salary cap.
Tyrus Thomas can't be amnestied until July 10, but he's been informed it will happen.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) July 4, 2013
The power forward/center holds career averages of 16.4 points, 50 percent shooting, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.4 blocks and 0.7 steals per game. He spent the past three seasons with the Utah Jazz, and had prior three-year stints with both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics, the latter of which selected him No. 15 overall in the 2004 draft.
At 28 years old, Jefferson is actually one of the more experienced players on the Bobcats' roster, and should offer the team some much-needed offensive firepower.
Jefferson is generally regarded as one of the league’s worst interior defenders, but he more than makes up for it with his ability to command a double-team at the other end of the floor.
ESPN Stats and Info provides us with a bit more insight into the logic behind this deal:
Al Jefferson was one of 13 NBA players to average 10+ points in the paint last season. Bobcats finished 24th in paint scoring.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 4, 2013
While he’s never been selected to an All-Star team or garnered any other significant honors during his nine-year career, Jefferson has been a steady performer in the paint for much of the past decade.
Since landing in Utah, Jefferson has improved his passing capabilities tremendously—a vastly underrated aspect of his game considering he’s a can’t-miss scorer on the left block.
Having learned to pass out of double-teams in the post in recent years, Jefferson has put up some of his most well-rounded numbers. Over the past three seasons, Big Al has averaged 2.0 assists and 1.2 turnovers per game compared to his six previous years where he averaged more turnovers (1.6) than assists (1.2).
What do you think of Big Al's deal?
While he is not a particularly high-percentage shooter, and tends to avoid contact like the plague, Jefferson is going to be a franchise pillar for a young team that finished in the bottom five in scoring last season (93.4).
Whether he's piling up points, pulling down boards, or even setting up teammates, Jefferson represents an upper-echelon big man that the Bobcats will be banking on his prime. Charlotte knows what it's getting here and paid a fair price to shore up its hole in the middle.