Al Jefferson was the big free agent signing in Charlotte this summer, with the team that has been so bad for so long finally deciding to spend for a proven and legitimate talent.
It can’t be that easy for the Bobcats, apparently, as Jefferson was carried from the floor Friday after suffering what the team later described as a sprained right ankle.
Teammates carried Jefferson to the locker room, where a Bobcats official confirmed the sprain after X-rays were negative. A dejected Jefferson had his right foot in a walking boot as he left the Sprint Center on crutches.
“It’s sore as [expletive], real sore — that’s all I can tell you,” Jefferson told ESPN.com as he left the arena. “It feels like I’ve got a heartbeat in it. All that matters is that it’s negative. It ain’t nothing I’ve never been through before, so I’ve just got to get treatment and make sure I’m ready for the season.”
If there’s a bright side here, it’s that observers initially feared that it might have been a knee injury, which obviously might have been much more serious. But the fact that he needed help to leave the floor isn’t a great sign, especially for the player the team believed in enough to sign to a three-year, $40 million contract that’s just begun.
Jefferson’s status will be reevaluated, but his availability is even more critical with Brendan Haywood already on the shelf for 12 weeks following surgery to repair a foot injury.
A nine-year NBA veteran, Jefferson averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds while playing 33.1 minutes per game for the Jazz last season.