Al Jefferson signed a five-year, $65 million extension that paid him $15 million last season in the final year of the deal. Whenever teams offers a player so much money, there’s always a risk he rests on his laurels.
Jefferson didn’t do that.
Since getting that extension, he’s worked hard to develop his offensive game. He’s added post moves, increased his range, become a better passer and cut down on his turnovers.
Jefferson, still just 28, can go to teams as a free agent and credibly tell them he will continue to hone his craft during the course of his next contract. That should increase his value.
Chris Broussard of ESPN:
Most NBA contracts are set up so salary rises annually, but even if Jefferson wants the smallest-possible four-year contract starting at $15 million – $53.25 million with the Jazz, $55.95 million with anyone else – that’s still much more money than he’s likely to get.
That’s because, despite his best efforts on the other end, Jefferson is an unimpressive defender. He’s too short to effectively guard most centers and too slow to effectively guard most power forwards.
When Jefferson was on the court last season, the Jazz defended like the NBA’s 28th-best defense. When he was on the bench, they defended like the league’s third-best defense.
NBA teams – Bobcats potentially notwithstanding – have gotten smarter about valuing two-way players, and Jefferson is a purely offensive player.
Jefferson, through no fault of his own, was overpaid once. Just because he did all he could to justify that contract doesn’t mean he’ll be overpaid again.