Found July 10, 2013 on Fox Sports Carolinas:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. Al Jefferson stood up from the podium in his navy suit, dime-sized diamond earrings in both ears the type only a man who just signed a three-year, 41 million deal could afford. His light-blue dress shirt hung untucked from the biggest free agent this citys ever seen. General manager Rich Cho and president Rod Higgins stood to his left and right beaming as the interior scorer they had searched for for years held up his new No. 25 jersey. "Low-post scoring, that's a premium in our business," Higgins said. "If you can find a guy who can score in the low post with his back to the basket, normally those guys arent available and so were fortunate to have him." It came at a premium, too a deal critics say was too high for a 28-year-old whose defense, especially against the pick and roll, is questionable. But big names like Jefferson need opportunity and exorbitant contracts to consider small markets in free agency. Jefferson got both with Charlotte the only team he visited after the Utah Jazz told him they wanted to go with their young big men, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. "I cant express how happy I am to be here. I think the Bobcats did a great job coming at me and just made me feel that they were a team out there that really respected my game, and wanted me to be a part of their family," Jefferson said. "Very happy to be here and represent the city of Charlotte." Jefferson joked that his hometown of Prentiss, Miss. wasnt any bigger than the press conference room he sat in. Charlottes far from tiny, but as one of the smallest markets in the NBA, its no surprise Jefferson chose opportunity and a big payday over the bright lights of potential suitors. Jefferson hadn't pondered the Bobcats as viable suitors until he saw Kemba Walker two months ago in New York City, with Walker joking to him about coming to Charlott. The big man thought it was just a joke until his agent called to schedule a meeting in Charlotte. Hed watched the team forever, remembering the Larry Johnson Hornets days and always knew Charlotte was a passionate basketball city, but it was more about the fit and just how much they needed him and wanted him. "I've just always been a great fan of this city, and I'm closer to home in Mississippi. It was just a no-brainer," Jefferson said. "And just to know they wanted me, they wanted me to be a part of their family, and I did have other options, but no one stood out like Charlotte." Those options namely the New Orleans Pelicans and Dallas Mavericks had their merits, but Jefferson wanted to embrace the challenge of revivng the Bobcats. As a seventh-grader, he stated a goal of making the giant leap to the NBA out of high school. He did that in 2004. He got the big contract, too, in the form of a three-year deal that allows a player option for his third year. Jefferson also gets another chance to learn from a Hall of Fame big man, Bobcats assistant Patrick Ewing, after spending time with Kevin McHale during his days in Minnesota. Jefferson admits that improving on the defensive end is a major point of emphasis. "Mad respect for him, and I can't wait to pick his brain like I did Kevin McHale," Jefferson said. "I think he can really help me as far as my defense and being a defensive-minded player." People forget that Jefferson is the only active NBA player, aside from Dwight Howard, to average at least 17 points and nine rebounds the last six seasons. Those guys never come cheap and Jefferson offers post flexibility. He played center in Utah and power forward with Boston and Minnesota, meaning he could line up with Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo or Josh McRoberts in the post. "When you talk about a guy that can score in the low post and the high post, a guy that can draw a double team, so if hes going to draw a double team on the strong side, someones probably going to be open for a corner three on the weak side," Higgins said. "Some of those things just enhance the talents that we have," Higgins says. "I'd imagine that some of our young kids, adding a veteran of Al's capabilities and talents, I think theyre going to get better from having him here." With Jefferson's presence, it's imperative that Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Jeff Taylor and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist bounce back from being one of the league's worst perimeter shooting teams last season. Bobcats management has continually talked about interior scoring, rebounding and shooting as their biggest needs, and they have addressed the former. On the flip side, they'd done nothing with the latter even if Henderson re-signs as a restricted free agent. Jefferson improves the Bobcats immediately, and that had to be the offseason action item, 2014 free agency and draft aside. Bringing back The Buzz and the signature teal uniforms are essential to rebranding and rejuvenating pro basketball in Charlotte, but so much of that excitement and interest was generated from playoff basketball of years past. The Bobcats likely won't make the playoffs in the 2013-14 campaign, but they don't really need to, either. There are benefits to showing improvement, but staying in lottery range next spring, with the hope of landing a potential superstar in next year's deep draft.

Charlotte Bobcats: Al Jefferson Signing Grade

Charlotte Bobcats: Al Jefferson Signing Grade By Brandon Hartman: HoopStuff Senior Columnist Jefferson’s contract: three years, 40.5 million - I guess you just can’t feel too sorry for Jefferson; he must just really enjoy playing on some very bad and below average teams. After career moves of playing in the pre-Big 3 era in Boston (which was pretty awful), to being traded to...

Report: Bobcats shopping Henderson

The Charlotte Bobcats are discussing sign-and-trade possibilities with multiple teams after reaching an impasse in contract negotiations with guard Gerald Henderson, Yahoo! Sports reports. Henderson, 25, is a restricted free agent. He averaged career highs in points per game (15.5), assists per game (2.6) and steals per game (1.0) this past season. He also pulled down 3.7 rebounds...

Bobcats Exploring Sign-And-Trade Scenarios For Gerald Henderson

The Charlotte Bobcats are exploring sign-and-trade possibilities for restricted free agent Gerald Henderson. Henderson’s representatives spoke with the Bobcats on Wednesday to discuss what the team might be prepared to pay him in a new deal. Henderson scored in double figures in each of the Bobcats’ last 24 games, including 10 games of 20 or more points.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Wow...a big name Free Agent landing in Small Market Charlotte...and he's tickled to death to be here.  Gotta love it! As we all know by now, the Bobcats have been making some moves lately. Signing Al Jefferson and Josh McRoberts, drafting Cody Zeller, extending an offer to Gerald Henderson, not offering a contract to Byron Mullens, and finally amnestying Tyrus Thomas...

Biyombo, Zeller, Kidd-Gilchrist, Ewing Headline Bobcats' Summer League Roster

The Charlotte Bobcats have announced their 2013 Summer League Roster. Bismack Biyombo, Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Pat Ewing, Jeffery Taylor and Abdul Gaddy headline the roster.

2013 NBA Free Agency: 10 Cheap Options the Bobcats Should Consider

The Charlotte Bobcats have had a pretty good off-season. They drafted a potential franchise player in big man Cody Zeller, brought back versatile big man Josh McRoberts and signed paint-changer Al Jefferson. In addition, they might still bring back shooting guard Gerald Henderson, and saved themselves some money and pain by letting forward Tyrus Thomas [...]
NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.