Al Jefferson: What does Suspension Mean?


Al Jefferson has been suspended by the NBA for five games. How does this affect his value to the Charlotte Hornets?

Center Al Jefferson of the Charlotte Hornets has been suspended by the NBA for five games after he becomes physically ready to play from his injury. The reason is that he broke the NBA’s anti-drug policy. This will mean a setback for Jefferson’s return to the team.

It will also cause the team to reevaluate Jefferson’s importance to the team. During his injury, the Hornets have played well in the new open concept offense that has developed. Hopefully the roll that the Hornets are on will continue long enough to see whether Jefferson can return and contribute.

The drug offense, whatever it is, cannot be good for Jefferson’s near future. It has to depress his value a little in a contract negotiation. It also has to problematic for a player who already shown issues staying healthy this season. Jefferson’s best way to show his value is to get on the court, but his return there got sidetracked by the drug thing. Then there is the question on whether the offensive opportunities will be there for him as he tries to mesh with the team again.

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Jefferson also makes for a difficult trade chip. He does not make enough money this year to be used as a solitary trade piece. It is also too early in the season for teams to be blowing up their rosters.

To give you an idea, let’s look at the current Hornets team. Their open concept offense has parts that can shoot from anywhere. The only hole in production is at the small forward position, where P.J. Hairston plays as the most athletic option on the defense.

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So the Hornets could in theory trade Jefferson for a small forward. Since the tem is not giving up on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the future, this small forward would best be an expiring deal. The other team would need to save some money somewhere. That team would also have to be out of the playoff race.

The perfect fit is to go trade Al Jefferson to the Brooklyn Nets for Joe Johnson. The problem is that Johnson makes ten million more a year than Jefferson, and the Hornets would have to make up the salary difference somewhere. The seven million the Hornets would need to cough up would be the equal of the salary of Marvin Williams, which misses the point of doing this.

Next: Hornets Depending Too Much on Expiring Deals?

Jefferson will rejoin the Hornets in a few weeks and we will see how the team adjusts.

The Hornets play Memphis tonight at 8:00 PM without Big Al.