This Is Big


Al Jefferson illustration by Mike S

Charlotte’s signing of “Big” Al Jefferson is monumental in so many ways

A few semi-coherent ramblings on today’s big news from halfway across the globe:

The Biggest Name Free Agent Signing in Charlotte Hoops History.

Derrick Coleman, Bobby Phills, Johnny Newman, Kenny Anderson, David Wesley and Ramon Sessions. Together these players make up the biggest “name” unrestricted free agents the Hornets and Bobcats have ever lured to the QC. Until today. Al Jefferson is one of the league’s best offensive centers and was a highly coveted free agent coming into the offseason. And Charlotte signed him. It actually happened. You can complain about Jefferson’s defense or his “fit” with the team but at the end of the day, a perpetually moribund, off-the-map franchise closed on a guy who had interest from Dallas and the Lakers. This is huge because:

  • Removes the glass “Free Agents Won’t Sign with Charlotte” ceiling. There’s a new precedent now. Live with it. Charlotte can lure big name free agents. I can’t believe I’m typing this.
  • Dispels the “Michael Jordan is too cheap to sign good players” myth. Bye-bye. Move on to something else please.
  • Signals the end to purposeful losing AKA tanking. Blowing it up for one year can be rationalized. Stinking in perpetuity? Nope. It is a disgrace to the league, the fans, the city and to the game itself. And the Horncats are done with it. Hallelujah. Also, every other team in the league is tanking this year so it wouldn’t have worked anyway.
  • Arrives in conjunction with the Tyrus Thomas amnesty. Thomas was the final remnant of the Larry Brown/Rod Higgins era of short term gain for long term pain. The draft pick owed to the Bulls for T-Time still looms but hopefully Charlotte will be good enough to place that pick in the mid-late teens sooner than later.
  • Allows the teams’ young prospects to play with a bona fide scoring threat. When was the last time Kemba Walker or Gerald Henderson weren’t the focal points of an opposing team’s defense? Between Jefferson and Cody Zeller, the Bobnets will have the most scoring punch in the frontcourt since Jamal Mashburn and Elden Campbell anchored the low block in the late ’90s. I can’t wait to see this team play together and what it will do for Kemba, Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist offensively.

I’ll update this post tomorrow once I sleep the delirium away. Until then, enjoy the holiday Bobcats/Hornets fans. Your team is relevant again.


5 thoughts on “This Is Big

  1. My issue with this is that the team isn’t tanking perpetually. This is the last year of tanking because they lucked(?) their way into three potential lottery picks in a deep draft. Just stay low for one more year and then try to win. They need one star, and this roster doesn’t have one.

    The one saving grace is that they may have enough bullets to trade up into the top three of the draft, assuming someone is willing to move down.

  2. Tanks a million

    Yeah, I’m not buying this deal.

    From a franchise construction standpoint, it’s dumb. Adds 5-10 meaningless wins next year when there are 2 franchise changing talents at the top of the draft. What if Seattle had signed Al Jefferson the year before Durant came out, they wouldn’t have gotten him, and the OKC “blueprint” would lead to just another mediocre 6-8 seed instead of the Finals. The fact of the matter is that tanking your way to a Hall of Famer is the only way a small or midsize market team can win a title. Large markets can get free agents, small markets have to hope for a loyal player like Duncan or Durant falls to them. That’s just the nature of the game right now.

    Even if we were in win-now mode, this is a dumb deal. Jefferson is an absolutely terrible defender. Over the course of a season he gives away more scoring than he gives you, particularly in games that matter. Sure, he’ll dominate Philly and Boston and Orlando, winning just enough to hurt our chances for a world-changing player. Also, no one else was interested in Jefferson this early in the signing period. They could and should have waited to see what price the market would set for a one way big – 9-12 million seems about right (depending on how your GM values scoring and defense). Still, everyone in the NBA knows you aren’t winning a playoff series if Jefferson is one of your top 3 players, and paying him 13.5 M means he’s one of your top 3.

    This also takes minutes from Biyombo and Zeller, the team’s future.

    Pretty clearly a desperate move to generate some interest next season at the expense of the long term development of the team.

    The only way this works out is if it makes the Hornets relevant enough for the NBA to rig the lottery in our favor like they do every time a great player comes out.

  3. Leroy

    an interesting point that you brought up that Big Al has no defense, if that’s the case, it means the signing of Big Al should not hurt our records much. with several teams purposefully tanking, there is no guarantee that the bobcats will win the sweep-take.

    Now we have the right coaching staff and with Josh McRoberts back, I really think they should ease Cody Zeller in instead of throwing him into the starting lineup like we did with Biz, a solid 25 mpg should provide him enough opportunities to get used to the pace of NBA while learning under Patrick Ewing as well as Al Jefferson to polish his offensive skill sets even further.

    Also, do not forget the cap space we will have in 2014 and also the 3 potential lottery pick.

    I like this deal because it can start building a good team environment and a solid core of players for the organization moving forward, the existence of Big Al may also help lure better FAs to Charlotte next year.

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