Al Jefferson Reportedly Agrees to Contract with Xinjiang Flying Tigers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 15: Al Jefferson #25 of the Indiana Pacers is seen before the game against the Toronto Raptors at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 15, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. 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 Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Veteran center Al Jefferson will continue his professional basketball career in China.

Per Sportando, Jefferson agreed to a deal with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

The move comes after the Indiana Pacers released the 33-year-old, thus eating $4 million of his $10 million salary for the 2017-18 season.

Heading into the year, Jefferson revealed he had dropped 60 pounds since he signed with the Pacers in 2016, including 20 pounds following the end of the 2016-17 campaign.

Unfortunately for the 14-year veteran, getting into great shape didn't prevent his fall down Indiana's depth chart. Myles Turner remained the starting center, and Domantas Sabonis took over as the backup after arriving in the Paul George trade.

Jefferson appeared in 36 games, averaging 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.

He turns 34 in January and has never been much of a long-range shooter, limiting his upside. He's 8-of-66 on three-pointers over his career, and more than 65 percent of his shot attempts have come inside 10 feet, according to Basketball Reference.

His limited offensive game would be more tolerable if he could protect the paint with regularity, but defense hasn't ever been his strong suit, even when he used to offer more of a shot-blocking presence.

During his best years with the Timberwolves and Jazz, Jefferson was one of the NBA's more underrated centers. Moving overseas gives the Mississippi native a chance to keep playing and putting up numbers in his mid-30s.

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