In the minds of many basketball observers, the free-agency period should be a highlight of any NBA player's career. After years of indentured servitude to the team that drafted him, free agency is a chance for an NBA player to get the same opportunity available to highly skilled workers in every other field: the right to choose an employer.
Al Jefferson: "For the record, being a free agent isn't fun. It's not what I thought it would be."— Baxter Holmes (@BaxterHolmes) November 13, 2013
Jefferson signed a three-year, $40.5 million contract with the Bobcats in the offseason; roughly 99 percent of the world's population would consider that a "fun" deal. Is this just another case of a spoiled professional athlete whining about his millions, or is Charlotte really that much of a downer?
Perhaps Jefferson was expecting more suitors and more money on the open market. The 6'10" center has a rare skill set: an elite post game and the ability to put up huge scoring numbers for a player of his size.
But Jefferson's post scoring talents would likely have been more appreciated in a bygone NBA era. In today's "spread 'em out" game, a low-post scorer just doesn't have the same kind of value. Today's NBA teams care first and foremost about defense from the center position, and Jefferson has a reputation as a poor defender.
For what it's worth, Jefferson wasn't the only 2013 free agent to complain about his free-agency period.
Shooting guard Kevin Martin—who signed a four-year, $28 million contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the offseason—expressed similar feelings just two weeks ago in an interview with Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman: “Everybody says free agency is fun. It wasn't fun for me. That's a big decision to make for yourself and for your family... I thought it was going to be fun. It was stressful.”
It seems that NBA free agency is just like any other job hunt: fraught with pressure, indecision and worry. Still, an eight-figure salary seems like a happy ending to any situation.