The Charlotte Hornets had their exit interviews on Thursday, and big man Al Jefferson said it’s unlikely that he’ll opt out of his contract for next season, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.
Jefferson signed a three-year, $41 million pact with Charlotte in 2013, with the third year being a player option worth $13.5 million. Opting in would limit some of the Hornets’ flexibility in the summer, especially with Kemba Walker‘s extension kicking in and Bismack Biyombo hitting restricted free agency. If Jefferson opts in and Biyombo is retained, Charlotte will likely have little to no cap space, and that’s before factoring in Gerald Henderson‘s $6 million player option.
However, it makes some sense for Jefferson to opt in. He just finished up an injury plagued season that saw regression on both sides of the court. He played in 65 of 82 games this season, and he averaged 16.6 points and 8.4 rebounds on the year. His shooting percentage dipped from 50.9 percent to 48.1 percent, a career low.
If Jefferson can come back healthy, perhaps he has a big season in advance of becoming a free agent in 2016 when the salary cap takes its massive leap. With so many teams having cap space to blow, Jefferson could be in for a bigger payday than he would get now after a down season.
On the other hand, perhaps Jefferson doesn’t like the fit in Charlotte and changes his mind. His game suffered because of a lack of spacing in the Hornets’ shooting starved lineup, and perhaps he’d seek out a roster better suited to his skills.