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Ex-Jazzman Al Jefferson thrilled about signing with Bobcats

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Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said Jefferson gives the Bobcats a proven veteran who can mentor young big men Bismack Biyombo and Zeller and take pressure off the team’s shooting guards.

"The toughest thing to do is execute in the half-court offense, but when you have a guy like Al it makes it a lot easier," Clifford said.

At a glance

Paul Millsap signs with Atlanta

Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry says he coveted Paul Millsap long before NBA free agency began.

One minute after teams were allowed to begin negotiating with free agents last week, Ferry called Millsap to schedule a meeting and make his pitch.

Millsap, who spent the last seven seasons with Utah, signed a two-year, $19 million contract with Atlanta on Wednesday. Ferry describes Millsap as a model teammate and power forward to pair with Al Horford, Kyle Korver and Lou Williams and keep their team competitive in the Eastern Conference.

The Hawks acquired Millsap after Ferry was turned down by Dwight Howard, who left the Los Angeles Lakers to sign with Houston, and as the Hawks prepared for Josh Smith to depart for Detroit following nine seasons with Atlanta.

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The one knock on Jefferson over the years has been his defense, particularly in the pick and roll.

But Clifford doesn’t see it as a liability.

"If you watch him I don’t think he’s nearly as bad as people are saying at all," Clifford said. "His defensive rebounding numbers are pretty good and it’s not like he’s immobile. There are challenges with everybody, but it’s not like I’m watching him on film and saying he can’t do it."

Jefferson, a nine-year NBA veteran, led the Utah Jazz in scoring in each of the last three seasons, averaging 18.5 points per game. He also averaged 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 blocks while playing in 221 of 230 possible games.

Despite those numbers, he entered free agency knowing he probably wouldn’t be returning to Salt Lake City.

‘’We came to an understanding that they wanted to go with their young bigs and that makes a lot of sense," Jefferson said, referring to the Jazz’s young frontcourt duo of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. "I think both of them will be superstars in this league. So I couldn’t be mad at that."

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