Al Jefferson: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent Center

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent III

CHARLOTTE, NC - APRIL 25: Al Jefferson #25 of the Charlotte Hornets warms up before the game against the Miami Heat for Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2016 at Time Warner Cable Arena 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kent Smith/Getty Images

Star center Al Jefferson will be a free agent in the summer but has publicly stated his desire to return to the Charlotte Hornets.

Continue for updates.

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Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reported the news regarding Jefferson's future as the 31-year-old expressed immense faith in the direction in which the franchise is headed.

"There's nowhere that I'd rather be," Jefferson said, per Bonnell. "The things that this franchise did over the last three years have been amazing, and I've been part of it. I know [there's] a whole other business side to this, but I really want to be here. I'd like to end my career here."

Jefferson averaged 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest over the course of seven games before Charlotte's opening-round playoff elimination at the hands of the Miami Heat. He logged 12.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in 47 regular-season contests.

Nicolas Batum suffered an ankle injury in Game 2, missing Games 3 and 4, and the Hornets weren't at full strength as a result. One silver lining, though, was Jefferson's play. He consistently had his way in the post with the Heat's Hassan Whiteside, who led the NBA in blocks this season.

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In addition to dynamic point guard Kemba Walker, Charlotte has an intriguing frontcourt comprised of young finesse players Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky.

Jefferson presents a fresh change of pace to that duo of big men with a throwback style that can help the Hornets be multifaceted on offense in the years to come. The presence of Zeller and Kaminsky will also allow Jefferson to remain fresh, which will be necessary as he enters the latter stages of his playing days.

With all teams being able to spend more in the offseason thanks to the NBA's salary-cap increase, Jefferson is extending a commendable gesture to make room for roster upgrades.

Charlotte ought to pounce on the chance to re-sign him at a good price and proceed to other marquee targets on the open market. Batum is the other high-priority free agent the Hornets should work hard to retain as a means of keeping their momentum and chemistry from 2015-16 intact.

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