The Indiana Pacers have made some noise in free agency. According to Woj, the Pacers have agreed in principle to a deal with veteran center Al Jefferson on a 3 year, $30 million deal.
Jefferson will immediately give the Pacers a post-scoring threat off the bench at the center position. Last season, the 31-year-old Jefferson averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds in only 23 minutes per game. Injuries have been an issue for him recently as he was limited to only 47 games last year. If you’re unfamiliar with Jefferson’s game, prepare yourself for a plethora of impressively effective pump fakes and slow moving post moves.
Jefferson’s shot chart has both positives and negatives from last season. He was a league average finisher at the rim, struggled mightily at his favorite spot in the post, and had a very efficient, if seldom used midrange game. The post-up numbers are concerning, but he performed well in that range in limited chances at the other end of the court. It’ll be interesting to see how that works out during his time with the Pacers.
While Jefferson’s numbers have gone down the last few years, he still had a positive Net Rating (+3) and an impressive 18.2 PER that would dwarf any of the other Pacers front court options on the bench. He should feast off of opposing bench bigs on the block. His $10 million per year deal is a bargain after Joakim Noah and Timofey Mozgov got deals in the $16 – $18 million per season range.
He could also be a huge developmental help to Myles Turner as a mentor and a learning tool during practice. Turner can learn a lot from Jefferson’s old-man game in the post and how to utilize a pump fake. Zach Harper sees Al Jeff’s biggest help to Turner as practice for defending skilled players in the post, which Turner wasn’t strong at last year.
The Pacers still have a little less $10 million in cap room after the Jefferson signing and one remaining roster spot left (if they sign Georges Niang). This likely puts them out of the range for a player like Courtney Lee or Jared Dudley with how money has been flying around since free agency began. If the Pacers are still looking for another backup big to fill out the roster, they’ve expressed an interest in Willie Reed.
This all but officially ends Ian Mahinmi’s time with the Indiana Pacers. It was reported that the Pacers were to call him immediately once free agency starts, but it seems his price demands may have been too high for Larry Bird and the Pacers. (Update: Mahinmi agreed to a 4 year, $64 million deal to go to the Washington Wizards.)
Here’s some links on what others think of the Al Jefferson deal: