Jefferson Expects To Be Back For Bobcats’ Opener

STEVE REED, AP Sports Writer
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(Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Bobcats center Al Jefferson said there’s a “very realistic” chance he will be ready to play in Charlotte’s regular season opener at Houston on Oct. 30.

“If you ask me I’ll be ready in another week or so, but (the training staff) wants to take it slow,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson, who signed a $41 million free agent contract this past offseason, is expected to be the focal point of the Bobcats offense.

Coach Steve Clifford said Jefferson gave the team a pretty good scare when he sprained his right ankle in Friday night’s preseason game against the Miami Heat in Kansas City.

Although Jefferson appeared to grab at his knee after landing on Chris Bosh’s foot, Jefferson said he knew he’d hurt his ankle.

He has not played since.

“That’s my goal — to be ready for the season opener,” Jefferson said. “My ankle is healing real fast. Two days ago I was on crutches and now I’m in my regular shoes.”

Jefferson said he’s sprained his ankle “several times” during his career. He said his worst sprain came in 2005 and he needed surgery the following year to repair the problem.

Clifford wouldn’t put a timetable on Jefferson’s return.

“We need to be careful with him to make sure he doesn’t come back too soon,” Clifford said. “At this stage it’s kind of wait and see. We’ll see how he responds to treatment.”

Clifford said Jefferson’s absence has forced the team to reorganize the order of how the team installing its offense. He said the Bobcats were putting in more post-up offense plays for Jefferson, but now the team is working on installing more pick-and-roll plays.

Bismack Biyombo has filled in for Jefferson at center and done a decent job on the boards, although he’s not a big scoring threat like Jefferson.

Rookie Cody Zeller, who the Bobcats want to use at power forward, has also been pressed into action at center with backup center Brandon Haywood out 12 weeks with a foot injury.

Jefferson said he injured the ankle when he landed on Bosh’s foot after trying to block his shot.

“It’s always tough when you’re not able to get out and play especially when you’re trying to get involved in a new system and get used to playing with the guys,” Jefferson said. “But it’s a part of the game. No matter what you do, things happen that way.”

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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