Al Jefferson: 'Being a Free Agent Isn't Fun'

Joe Flynn@@ChinaJoeFlynnContributor INovember 13, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 11:  Head coach Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Bobcats shakes hands with his player Al Jefferson #25 as he walks off the court during their game against the Atlanta Hawks at Time Warner Cable Arena on November 11, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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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. 

But recently signed Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson does not agree with that assessment, as he admitted before tonight's game against the Boston Celtics to Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe.

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.

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 11:  Al Jefferson #25 of the Charlotte Bobcats drives against Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks during the game at the Time Warner Cable Arena on November 11, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
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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.