The Charlotte Bobcats wanted point guard Kemba Walker to take ownership of this team. So they gave him input, then gave him a recruiting assignment.
Last spring, Rod Higgins, president of basketball operations, asked Walker which free agent would help this team most. Walker said Al Jefferson, the low-post scorer who was leaving the Utah Jazz.
Higgins concurred and told Walker to go recruit. Bobcats management couldn’t contact Jefferson until July, but there was nothing in the rules precluding Walker from reaching out to Big Al. Besides, Higgins reminded, Walker and Jefferson share an agent, Jeff Schwartz.
So Walker set up dinner with Jefferson in New York. They hung out and watched the Spurs and Heat in the NBA Finals.
“I didn’t say too much about the Bobcats,” Walker said, implying this was the soft-sell approach.
Something went right. Through Walker there was sufficient communication that the Bobcats were serious about Jefferson and Jefferson would be serious about the Bobcats.
Months later Jefferson and the Bobcats got hitched, with a three-year, $41 million price tag.