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Al Jefferson Signs with Bobcats: Big Deal

What were you expecting when the season ended?  Draft, high hopefully, power forward maybe?  A few free agents, but nothing major right?  After all, there is some epic draft class next year.  We want the Bobcats to be better, but not that much better before they become the Hornets, right?  That's what I figured.

I knew for sure that Desagana Diop was dropping off the books.  I was hoping that Tyrus Thomas would be amnestied, for no reason other than his attitude late last year, when he actually was put in games.  Oh yeah, the coach!  How long has it been since I posted?  Listen, my work hours are now 4am-1pm, but I do get weekends to catch up on sleep, I mean off, to think about Bobcats and relate it to you people...  It rarely happens, but today was big.

Back to shocking you with knowledge:  Mike Dunlap was fired.  It was weird.  Thinking back on it, I was shocked.  I thought for real the plan was:  develop the guys we've got; ride out Dunlap's deal and hope he really isn't as bad at lineups and isn't truly what Ben Gordon thought he was; draft well and for talent not just need; fill out the roster with quality but cheap talent.  The wins would come but not so many that the team would make the playoffs.  I can't believe I wasn't hoping or wanting playoffs any time soon.  Really?  Playoffs are awesome.  I want Kemba Walker to have success in year 3.  I want Gerald Henderson to have success.  Losing as much as they have has to hurt.  But being great, having a great player, which we're told there are lots next year, is great.

Shocked yet?  No.  Me either.  I'm just trying to walk myself up to this point.  I hope that the rest of you are having the same issue I am.  Dunlap, who tripled the win total from the year before was good enough to do all that.  Someone to fill out the roster while Walker, Biyombo and MKG developed and ate up all the on court time, would be good enough.  25-30 wins, some crazy late season injuries, I'd be good with that next year and get some serious karma built up for the lottery.  Today though, we sit with a pretty good head coach, a legendary bench filled with assistants, last year's most likely to be picked #1 guy, and a nearly 20/10 center that was bound to be a top 10 free agent prospect.

This article calls him #15 but he'd be interchangeable with Paul Millsap (#11).  This guy has him #3 behind only Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.  Al Jefferson is a big name coming to the Charlotte Bobcats of his own volition.  No trade, no draft, full on free agent taking a meeting and then signing with the Charlotte Bobcats.  It's kind of crazy if you think of it in those terms.  Big name, coming to Charlotte.

The Bobcats are on the up-tick.  Whatever you think of the plan that you thought was in place and how this signing affects it, this one is a good thing.  I'm telling you it is.  Jefferson is coming in for 2 years, with a player option for a third and it sounds like it's $13.5 million per year.  It could be 3 years, $40.5 million.  In my mind that's 2 years of a player in his prime that's capable of putting up points consistently at the center position and a year of him as an expiring contract.  That's worst case.  Pairing this guy, who has been good for 7 years out of his 9 in the league, straight out of high school, with Clifford and Ewing, a real point guard in Kemba Walker and either Biyombo or Zeller at the power forward?  Do you think that'd be better than his last few years in Utah with Gordon Haywood and Mo Williams?  C'mon!  I'm excited the more I think about it.

Will the Bobcats be in the playoffs next year?  Who knows?  If they make the playoffs, they don't get their own pick into the lottery; aka:  no chance at Wiggins or whoever is supposed to be good coming out next year.  I've seen that the optimum would be #1, #9 and #13 in next year's draft.  There is a distinct possibility that the Bobcats get no picks next year.  So that gamble, getting too much better, could hurt them in a draft that could be great.  I don't like thinking "Hmm, don't want to get too much better!"  "Can't sign a guy that good, no sir, it'll hurt us in our possible ping-pong ball based future."  It sucks!  Get better or get out?  Right?

Al Jefferson, not Dwight Howard, will be a Bobcat.  It's not earth shattering, it won't change the direction of the franchise forever.  Some fans are concerned that the direction will be altered forever, like drafting McMay and Felton over Chris Paul or Deron Williams.  That's revisionist history and in a recent interview, I believe Bernie Bickerstaff stated that wasn't on the table.  You have to sort of trust the front office.  The problem we, as Charlotte Bobcats fans, have is that the front office has given us very little to trust.

Jefferson will give you 17 points and 10 rebounds a night.  As I stated earlier, maybe the situation here will improve his game and you can count on 20 and 13, which is incredible, Brook Lopez type numbers, in a weak center league.  That will not take away from Bismack Biyombo's development.  Nor will it hurt playing time for young Cody Zeller.  Alternatively, the young bigs will have not only Steve Clifford and Patrick Ewing to help them along, they'll have a 9 year veteran, who has been successful (yes, on one end of the court only) to show them what it means to play, game in game out, on a successful level.

I've used the word "success" or "successful" about 4 times in this post so far.  If you want anything but for this roster and this franchise, I'm not sure I understand you as a fan.   That sounds harsh like I'm picking a fight, but it's understanding, not respect that I would argue with you.  You care, hell you might have booed at the Cody Zeller pick, that's good.  You are involved to the point of having a base reaction and that's what this team needs.  But I don't understand a guy (or gal) that would want the team to languish, for the off chance that the lottery goes their way for an off chance at a player that will be 19 or 20 years old changing the franchise forever.  Building is what this front office is doing.  There may be no centerpiece or cornerstone, but not many buildings are built that way anymore.  So deal with it.

Jefferson will help, the Bobcats will turn some heads.  The world won't end if they don't get one of those "can't miss" guys in next year's draft.  It won't be Larry Brown's version of the Bobcats, good enough to make 7 or 8 and get bounced in the first round.  Not based on Al Jefferson.  Sorry.