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Is Al Jefferson done as a Charlotte Hornet?


I was putting together this trade timeline and started to wonder if it’s possible Al has played his last game as a Hornet. If he comes back after 3 weeks it’ll be at least 2 more before he’s in game shape (for Al) and if the team is rolling that’s a huge wrench. Sooner or later it could happen via trade or a Josh Smith style buyout.

The next 30 days are going to be crazy significant with so many roster subplots, from doing nothing to making major changes. Every pundit over the summer kept repeating the incorrect mantra that Charlotte’s main objective was “winning now” but that was always false. The truth is they altered their roster blueprint with a concurrent goal of remaining competitive...big difference. It has always been about 2016-17 and 2017-18 but the lazy media never bothered with math, the salary cap, or the 22-26 age range of the core.

We could see some interesting twists but I doubt valuable picks or valuable assets are surrendered for expiring contracts. A rough timeline:

December 15 - trade restrictions are lifted for FA signed over the summer
December 21 - Al’s projected return date
January 5 - teams can sign players to 10 day contracts
January 15 - deadline to apply for MKG’s Disabled Player Exception (DPE)
February 18 - NBA trade deadline
March 22 - 5.5 months after MKG’s surgery, the amount of time between Love’s surgery and debut
April 6 - exactly 6 months after MKG’s surgery, the projected time he would be out
April 20 - playoffs start
May 5 - 2nd round starts

Scenario 1 - the team improbably falls off a cliff and starts the 2016-17 reboot early. In this unlikely scenario Marvin could be traded, Al is traded or receives his buyout, the team uses a series of 10 day contracts, no MKG return, and no DPE.

Scenario 2 - The team bumps along on the playoff bubble expecting the lotto or a playoff sweep. If this happens Marvin could still be traded, Al is a wild card, Cho looks for 10-day contracts, the team explores the DPE option ($3.1 million), and MKG does not return.

Scenario 3 - Al returns and the team racks up enough wins within 6 weeks to think HC advantage is realistic. In this scenario the FO will have some tough decisions. I’m sure the goal would be to see MKG return by April or they’ll file for the DPE. They’d keep Marvin for the stretch run with a minor deal to fortify a need.

Scenario 4 - The team surges over the next 2-3 weeks providing a glimmer of 46-50 wins without Al and the FO decides to trade him or give him a buyout. Alternatively, he could return as an ill-fit and get moved in January. If this happens I can also see a larger trade go down involving multiple players and draft picks to acquire a significant piece on a longer contract. Marvin for sure stays, MKG returns and a massive Mic Drop ensues . I don’t know the probability of this happening but it’ not 0%.

Scenarios 5 through whatever...


  • 90 Comments

    Cody's performance in the next few games could be really significant. 

    Although it's all very realistic from a tactical perspective, I don't think we do anything that appears that we pushed him out of here.  I doubt we trade, push a buyout (unless we are fading and it's in his best interests) to make space or the like.  I say this thinking Al was the first bonefide significant free agent we brought here.  If we want to put our best foot forward, we'll continue to dote on him until his contract ends.  It might not sit well with Clifford if that isn't the direction he wants to go (although I am very much thinking that most folks will be wishing him back soon after the next four or five games, Clifford amongst the most wishful of them) but even so, it's in the team's long term interest to be a destination that does its FA's right... at least until we can reliably start to show we can sign them.  I seriously doubt we do anything that would upset the Batum apple cart as well and hanging the old paint can out at this time might not be the wisest move for that.

    he'll still be very effective in some games this year, and in others we'll have no use for him.  all depends on matchups and how certain games are progressing.  like on bad shooting nights i still feel like we'll be pretty reliable on him.  but then again we didn't shoot very well saturday and still beat one of the best teams in the east on the road so who knows

    i am willing to bet that al won't be moved unless it is to get a sure fire starting center that fits the offense and defense. other than that, he won't be traded and definitely not bought out.

    Although it's all very realistic from a tactical perspective, I don't think we do anything that appears that we pushed him out of here.  I doubt we trade, push a buyout (unless we are fading and it's in his best interests) to make space or the like.  I say this thinking Al was the first bonefide significant free agent we brought here.  If we want to put our best foot forward, we'll continue to dote on him until his contract ends.  It might not sit well with Clifford if that isn't the direction he wants to go (although I am very much thinking that most folks will be wishing him back soon after the next four or five games, Clifford amongst the most wishful of them) but even so, it's in the team's long term interest to be a destination that does its FA's right... at least until we can reliably start to show we can sign them.  I seriously doubt we do anything that would upset the Batum apple cart as well and hanging the old paint can out at this time might not be the wisest move for that.


    I think Clifford would be the biggest sticking point in moving Al. If the team is winning without him Clifford's buy-in is more likely though, esp if Cho gets a talented young rebounder. Al's minutes were already trending down without closing many games. I doubt Clifford would want a disgruntled Al on the bench if he deems the team is better off with him getting even fewer minutes. Or worse, not starting.

    Regarding Batum (and other FA) it's hard to say. The team is constructed in a way that Al is a limiting factor to playing Batum's "Beautiful Game" that translates better in today's NBA. Al doesn't do much on the defensive end and I wonder how much that wears on Nic and the others.

    As a vet on an expiring, like Al, I think Nic would rather get moved than watch his minutes (and future earnings) melt away on the bench if that's the direction this is headed.

    What's fascinating about Al's injury is the timing of the opponents before and after:  Sacramento, Washington, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Miami, Orlando - I'm ignoring Golden State everyone loses to them. These are the exact teams Al would be theoretically needed.  

     

    The team has a 4-1 record over the last 5 (4-2 including Golden State) with varying degrees of Al participating. Sacramento was without him, Cleveland closing with him and losing, and two wins he played a total of 6 minutes. The games vs Detroit, Memphis, Miami, and Orlando are going to be telling.

     

    With that said Drummond will break someone in half tonight and grab 35 rebounds.

    I'm thinking Al doesn't get moved this year. He has had some good games and not used as much in others. I think that is his role. Sounds like he's a good locker room guy and a good influence on the young guys. This is a guy who took all these young guys out for dinner before the season started and picked up the bill, not a guy who took them out and stuck the rookie with the bill. Chemistry is a word that's been thrown out a lot this year and I feel he's a big part of it.

    I think Clifford would be the biggest sticking point in moving Al. If the team is winning without him Clifford's buy-in is more likely though, esp if Cho gets a talented young rebounder. Al's minutes were already trending down without closing many games. I doubt Clifford would want a disgruntled Al on the bench if he deems the team is better off with him getting even fewer minutes. Or worse, not starting.

    Regarding Batum (and other FA) it's hard to say. The team is constructed in a way that Al is a limiting factor to playing Batum's "Beautiful Game" that translates better in today's NBA. Al doesn't do much on the defensive end and I wonder how much that wears on Nic and the others.

    As a vet on an expiring, like Al, I think Nic would rather get moved than watch his minutes (and future earnings) melt away on the bench if that's the direction this is headed.

     

    Ok, so Cody's great starts the last two had me revisit this most interesting notion.  Because, if Cody IS a starter (and don't get me wrong, two good starts don't make that a given, just a starting point), then what role does Al have.

     

    I do want to clarify what I see as the issue here.  And it's not about attracting FA because of the game on the court.  Rather, we historically, from the beginning of the Bobcat era on, had never signed a significant FA. We had the moniker "cheap" stuck to us with Super Glue for years, even after a time that I felt we were no longer demonstrating it.  But in that history, we often would draft players to let them move on, we had questionable dealings with players (see history of Raja Bell or Wallace's disdain to a much lesser extent), we hired (with the exception of Larry Brown) coaches that made you wonder if we were getting retreads or never treads for cheap, the description of us stuck for a reason.  So when we signed Al here at ~13mm for three years, and gave him a player option, and he WANTED to be here, that was the first bonefide stake in the ground to change that perception.  Signing Hayward for a max deal probably helped but I read a few places then that folks "still" thought we were cheap as we "knew" Utah would eventually claim him.  So signing Jeremy Lin doesn't move the meter because it was a "cheap" deal.  And maybe we show a bit better for Kemba and MKG's bigger contract extensions.  And we took a flyer on Nic which might be a "rental."  But the fact (to me) remains that we need to show we handle Al and his deal in a most superlative way because that was the landmark FA deal that showed we weren't cheap.  E.g. I think the FO, even if it hurts the basketball a bit, trend toward making that look as good as possible all the way through and thus I think they do anything they can to not move Al before his contract wraps.  I don't think we'd resign him but I am really just focusing on cutting him early.  

     

    - and I can be COMPLETELY wrong, just my thoughts on the subject -

    Perfectly reasonable opinion to have. While creating the timeline my initial intent wasn't to ask "is Al done" but the more I looked at it the more it became clear - to me at least - the central theme was Al. Any other potential change seems minor by comparison (Titanic deck chair re-arranging, if you will).

     

    Before the season I believed he'd get traded (or bought out) given the FO 180 combined with his age/performance arc. When MKG was injured I was less sure but I still believe that. If I get around to it I'll post a more detailed rationale for my conclusion. No doubt though it's nuanced regardless of how fancy my chart would be.

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    BrotherDave
    Dec 08 2015 04:54 PM

    Does Al actually have trade value? His "intangibles" probably outweigh any player Charlotte is likely to get in return. 

    Lance & Smith for Al and Daniels!  :)  Given his 14 million contract and interest don't see Al trade happening.

     

    Can see Cho shopping hard before deadline Roberts 2.8 million, Hairston, and/or 2nd for a better wing.

    If th team can prove that they can be effective and win without Al I can see a move happening, but idk for who? We are missing a key defensive player in MKG but other players have stepped up. Al hasn't impressed me this year like he did that year and it could be his age getting to him. I don't like the idea to shop for Lance, he brought the whole team down no matter what. His production was piss poor and he didn't mesh well with the other players. Maybe an athletic big man like Josh Smith but I wouldn't think of him as someone who can pull the team together.

    I know he doesn't get a lot of playing time but I would like to keep Brian Roberts as someone who can keep the team together and have a good locker room presence. When Lance didn't start everyone knew it because he would let it be known in the locker room and his game time attitude. I personally liked Biz playing with us, strictly for his defensive presence.

    For me, Hairston is a toss up whether to trade or not.

    Does Al actually have trade value? His "intangibles" probably outweigh any player Charlotte is likely to get in return.


    Al has went downhill in his production in my opinion. He may just be getting old but he isn't on the court as much as Clif seems to be running an up tempo offense more. Idk if I would look to trade him but if another team offers potential I would go after it.

    Ok, so Cody's great starts the last two had me revisit this most interesting notion.  Because, if Cody IS a starter (and don't get me wrong, two good starts don't make that a given, just a starting point), then what role does Al have.

     

    I do want to clarify what I see as the issue here.  And it's not about attracting FA because of the game on the court.  Rather, we historically, from the beginning of the Bobcat era on, had never signed a significant FA. We had the moniker "cheap" stuck to us with Super Glue for years, even after a time that I felt we were no longer demonstrating it.  But in that history, we often would draft players to let them move on, we had questionable dealings with players (see history of Raja Bell or Wallace's disdain to a much lesser extent), we hired (with the exception of Larry Brown) coaches that made you wonder if we were getting retreads or never treads for cheap, the description of us stuck for a reason.  So when we signed Al here at ~13mm for three years, and gave him a player option, and he WANTED to be here, that was the first bonefide stake in the ground to change that perception.  Signing Hayward for a max deal probably helped but I read a few places then that folks "still" thought we were cheap as we "knew" Utah would eventually claim him.  So signing Jeremy Lin doesn't move the meter because it was a "cheap" deal.  And maybe we show a bit better for Kemba and MKG's bigger contract extensions.  And we took a flyer on Nic which might be a "rental."  But the fact (to me) remains that we need to show we handle Al and his deal in a most superlative way because that was the landmark FA deal that showed we weren't cheap.  E.g. I think the FO, even if it hurts the basketball a bit, trend toward making that look as good as possible all the way through and thus I think they do anything they can to not move Al before his contract wraps.  I don't think we'd resign him but I am really just focusing on cutting him early.  

     

    - and I can be COMPLETELY wrong, just my thoughts on the subject -

     

    With much love, I'm going to say you're way overthinking it. More importantly that treating a specific player with gushing amounts of love is proving you can put together a winner and put a player in position to win a championship. 

     

    I think any move that was perceived to improve our chances to win without being underhanded will be valued by most players as long as there's a vision and sense of purpose to back it up. Right now our FO's mission is to help FAs understand we're not just a random assortment of over achieving pieces, that this is a system that can be successful and they can be successful in it while being compensated fairly. 

     

    I really think that's all to it, yet we've struggled with it for years for a variety of reasons. It feels like it's starting to come together now. Al can be a piece, but may be expendable. I definitely don't think you cut him. If he nothing else, he can be valuable in a grind-it-out series as a go to offensive guy when shots aren't falling for most. It helps that we can limit his minutes substantially to keep his legs fresh. We don't have to ride him to the playoffs. 

    If Cody continues to play well and the team continues to win, I think the best thing would be to have Al come off the bench.  IMO it's the most suitable role for him all along this season. 

    Well remember dnb, not saying we give him more money or even resign him. Just saying we treat him and his contract "here" with kid gloves. Think you aren't saying anything too dissimilar but we'll disagree on their willingness to move him at all. I am saying we honor his contract to the letter, that's my strong belief/gut. And the strong "completely wrong" thing above should get me out of jail if we move him when Cody averages 20/10 through Dec :)

    uh... yeah...

     

    5 game suspension for drugs?

     

     

    @https://twitter.com/SpearsNBAYahoo/status/674680434354098176?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

    Now Al is suspended another 5 games when he gets healthy because of violation of anti drug program...
    EVERYTHING I said I now think is completely irrelevant (if'n it wasn't already ;)).

    EVERYTHING I said I now think is completely irrelevant (if'n it wasn't already ;)).

    hahaha... first thing I thought of when I saw the article!  :biggrin:

    hahaha... first thing I thought of when I saw the article! :biggrin:


    If there was ever *any* aspect of my viewpoint that the team held, Al just gave them a giant get out of jail free card.

    Apparently before the announcement of A'ls suspension and rolling the Heat

     

     

     

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    GeraldWallaceMVP
    Dec 12 2015 07:00 AM
    I don't want al back tbh we are much better without gim. Kemba and Batum are playing at a All Star Level

    Apparently before the announcement of A'ls suspension and rolling the Heat

     

     

    I'm very surprised he said that given that it could lead to a potential chemistry issue.

     

    Of course, if everybody's comfortable keeping it real in the locker room, all the better.

    I had somehow missed this gem. Rick totally nails it here.

     





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