Al Jefferson Opts In, Will Stay With Hornets

MONDAY, 1:10pm: Jefferson has formally opted in, the team announced.

SUNDAY, 8:33am: The Hornets’ Al Jefferson has decided to stay in Charlotte for another season, reports Marc Stein of Jefferson had until Monday to decide whether to opt in to the final season of his three-year deal or pursue free agency. His agent, Jeff Schwartz, told Stein that he will formally notify the team that Jefferson plans to opt in.

Jefferson, 30, will make more than $13.8MM next season, which will be his third in Charlotte. He had said in April that he was unlikely to opt out, referring to “unfinished business” after the Hornets failed to make the playoffs. Groin and knee injuries limited him to 65 games during the 2014/15 season, and his numbers fell as a result. Jefferson’s scoring average plunged to 16.6 and his rebounding dropped to 8.4 per game, the lowest figures in both categories since his second year in the league with Boston. Jefferson has told reporters that he hopes to be 25 pounds lighter by the start of training camp.

Jefferson was drafted 15th overall by the Celtics in 2004. He was traded to Minnesota in 2007 and then Utah in 2010 before signing a surprising deal with lowly Charlotte in 2013. At the time, the opt-out clause was seen as a way to escape a floundering franchise, but Jefferson led Charlotte to the playoffs in 2013/14 while earning all-NBA third-team honors. By opting in, Jefferson will become part of the 2016 free agency class that will benefit from an expected soaring salary cap propelled by the league’s new TV deal.

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