As expected, Al Jefferson will opt-in to his player-option on the third and final year of his contract with Charlotte.
Jefferson made it rather clears during season exit interviews in April that he would return for next season. “Unfinished business” and “losing 25-pounds” were some of the headline quotes that Big Al stated in his desire to wear a Hornets uniform again in 2015-’16.
Next season will most likely be Jefferson’s last in a Hornets uniform. In the summer of ’16 he will officially become an unrestricted free-agent. With a solid campaign next season there is a good chance that Big Al will secure one more long-term deal right when the salary-cap will soar due to the new TV deal. It’s unlikely that the Hornets would be one of the serious contenders to sign him to another long-term deal unless Jefferson returns to his ’13-’14 form, Charlotte manufactures a dream season, and Jefferson plays the role of the chief orchestrator.
Al Jefferson played 73 games in ’13-’14, while averaging 22 PPG & 11 RPG and earning All-NBA Third Team honors. Last season Jefferson only played 65 games, about five less minutes per game than ’13-’14, and averaged 16.5 PPG & 8.5 RPG. He was a shell of himself from the season before and never appeared to be fully healthy after suffering a plantar-fascia injury in the ’13-’14 playoffs.
In the first season of the Al Jefferson era, it appeared as if Rich Cho had struck gold and Charlotte had finally landed a cornerstone player to help them consistently be a playoff team. Last season, the reality of Jefferson’s age and injury-prone history slapped Charlotte fans in the face. Overall, Big Al has been a positive upswing for the Bobcats/Hornets and undoubtedly the best front-court player in franchise history. This roster still has playoff potential for ’15-’16, and it all begins with Al Jefferson.