Hornets center Al Jefferson has been diagnosed with a strain of an adductor muscle in his left groin and is expected to miss a minimum of four weeks, the team has announced. Jefferson initially injured his groin last weekend but aggravated it during Monday night’s contest against the Bucks. Initial estimates had Jefferson likely to miss a few games, but an MRI taken earlier today confirmed the strain, though no tear was revealed, which is good news for both the player and the team.
In 32 games this season, Jefferson leads the Hornets in scoring and rebounding with averages of 18.0 points and 8.2 rebounds in 32.2 minutes per game. The 6’10” center has scored in double figures in 28 of 32 games this season and has a team-high 10 double-doubles. Jefferson’s career numbers are 17.0 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 1.6 APG. His career slash line is .500/.103/.713.
The Hornets currently have the league maximum 15 players on their roster, 14 of whom have fully guaranteed pacts. This means that Charlotte would need to trade or release a player if it wanted to bolster its frontcourt depth in the wake of Jefferson’s absence. The lone player on the roster with a non-guaranteed deal is Jason Maxiell, and he’ll likely be counted on to absorb some of Jefferson’s minutes, which would not make him an ideal candidate to be released if Charlotte chooses to add another big, though that is just my speculation.
The player that will most directly benefit from a prolonged absence to Jefferson is Bismack Biyombo. The former lottery pick is only averaging 14.0 minutes per game in 25 appearances this season. Biyombo was mentioned in trade rumors prior to the season, and has also been noted as a possible trade target for the Cavs, who are desperately seeking a rim protecting big man. A strong showing from the 22-year-old could increase the demand for his services and his perceived value in advance of the February trade deadline. Biyombo is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, so his play will also have an impact on his next contract as well.