The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has acquired center/forward Al Jefferson from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for center Kosta Koufos, the Memphis Grizzlies’ protected 2011 first-round pick (obtained by the Jazz a previous trade) and an additional future protected first-round pick.
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“We are happy to acquire a young power player who has developed into one of the best low-post scorers in the league,” said Jazz General Manager O’Connor. “We gave up significant assets to obtain Al and we look forward to watching him progress with our team.”
“I want to thank Al for his three years with the Timberwolves and the professionalism he exhibited this summer,” said David Kahn, Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations. “Al is motivated to have a career-defining season and I recognize the Jazz will be the recipients of that, not us. I expect him to help Utah immensely.
“However, this trade was made in the best interests of not only Al, but also us. With the arrival of Michael Beasley, it would have been difficult to play Al the kind of minutes he deserves without jeopardizing the development of both Kevin Love and Michael. Moreover, I believe we had to take the opportunity to do this trade during the summer, when a small handful of teams are capable of absorbing his salary without sending back equal contracts in return.
“The first-round picks we receive plus the flexibility that we now have under the salary cap made this the right time to make what was a difficult decision.”
Originally selected by the Boston Celtics in the first round (15th overall) of the 2004 NBA Draft, Jefferson (6-10, 275, Prentiss H.S. (Miss.)) owns career averages of 15.3 points (.503 FG%), 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.25 blocks in 407 career games (276 starts) over six NBA seasons with Boston and Minnesota since entering the league directly out of high school in 2004. Jefferson has averaged a double-double in four of the last five seasons and has 98 career games with 20+ points and 10+ rebounds.
In three seasons with the Timberwolves (2007-10), Jefferson appeared in 208 games (all starts) and averaged 20.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.44 blocks in 34.7 minutes while leading the team in scoring each season. His best statistical season came in 2008-09, when Jefferson registered career-high averages of 23.1 points, 1.6 assists and 1.66 blocks while grabbing 11.0 rebounds per game, becoming one of only five players in the last 10 years to average both 23+ points and 11+ rebounds for a season (Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Webber are the others).
In 2009-10, Jefferson averaged 17.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.29 blocks in 76 games (all starts) with 35 double-doubles. He scored 20+ points on 27 occasions and had 10+ rebounds 37 times, including a game on January 14, 2010 when he hauled in a Minnesota franchise-record 26 rebounds and scored 26 points in the Wolves triple-overtime loss at Houston. The effort was his fifth career 20-20 game and just the ninth 25-point, 25-rebound game in the NBA in the past 15 years.
In February 2010, the 25-year-old Monticello, Miss., native and former Mr. Basketball for the state of Mississippi was among 27 NBA players selected to the 2010-2012 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Program.
Originally selected by the Jazz in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft, Koufos (7-1, 265, Ohio State) owns career averages of 3.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.2 assists in 48 career games (seven starts).