Legit NBA big men are hard to come by these days. That is why the 2011 NBA free agent centers are an intriguing bunch since they are at least five players who could immediately start for a good amount of teams in need of size in the middle. Here are my free agent center rankings.
By: David Kay
1. Marc Gasol, Grizzlies (RFA)
Gasol has drawn a ton of buzz and added value to his off-season worth with a strong showing in the post-season. At only 26-years old, he should get a good deal of interest this summer and will be due a handsome pay raise from the $3.5 million he made this season. Memphis already opened up the checkbook to keep Zach Randolph and will likely do the same for Gasol.
Predicted Contract: 5-years, $60 million
Possible Destinations: MEM
2. Nene, Nuggets (PO)
This will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on. Nene has a $11.6 million option for this up-coming season and Denver has said they would like to sign him to an extension. Since not many teams have the cap space to pursue Nene, he could end up picking up the option on his contract and play it out if he is unhappy with the Nuggets’ extension offer.
Predicted Contract: 4-years, $48 million
Possible Destinations: DEN
3. Tyson Chandler, Mavs (UFA)
When he is healthy, you know what you are going to get from Chandler; a physical presence inside who will protect the glass. Dallas committed a ton of money to Brendan Haywood last off-season, which means Mark Cuban will have to open up his checkbook to keep Chandler. If Chandler decides to move on, he will either have to sign with a re-building team or take the mid-level to go to another title contender.
Predicted Contract: 5-years, $45 million
Possible Destinations: DAL, TOR
4. DeAndre Jordan, Clippers (RFA)
Chris Kaman’s injury opened the door for Jordan who capitalized on his opportunity and suddenly becomes a hot commodity this off-season especially since he only turns 23 this summer. The Clips have a lot of money tied up in Kaman but could look to deal him to make room for a Jordan extension. If not, several teams should be knocking on the door to sign Jordan or possibly work out a sign-and-trade.
Predicted Contract: 5-years, $33 million
Possible Destinations: LAC, NY, TOR, CHA, HOU
5. Yao Ming, C, Rockets (UFA)
Having played just five games in the past two seasons due to injury, it looks as if Yao’s career may end early. No team will risk signing him to anything longer than a one-year deal if he even proves to be healthy enough to play. Consider him a massive x-factor in the 2011 free agent class.
Predicted Contract: Retires
Possible Destinations: HOU
6. Samuel Dalembert (UFA), Kings
Dalembert has found his niche in the NBA as a rebounder and shot blocker. His accountability is through the roof as he has only missed two games in the past five seasons. Some playoff team in need of a true center will assuredly throw their mid-level exception his way.
Predicted Contract: 4-years, $20 million
Possible Destinations: NY, BOS, SA, TOR, CHA
7. Greg Oden, Blazers (QO)
For someone who has only played in 82 NBA games during his three seasons in the league, a team would be foolish to try and pry him away from Portland with a long-term deal. That is, if the Blazers even extend the qualifying offer his way. If Portland lets him become an unrestricted free agent, someone will certainly give him a chance to prove he can be a productive NBA center.
Predicted Contract: Plays out final year of contract
Possible Destinations: POR
8. Nazr Mohammed (UFA), Thunder
A proven veteran who can bang inside and provide a team with a serviceable center, Mohammed should be sought after for a fairly inexpensive price. Since OKC re-signed Kendrick Perkins to a long-term extension and drafted Cole Aldrich last year, expect Mohammed to find a new home next season.
Predicted Contract: 2-years, $5 million
Possible Destinations: TOR, SA, SAC, IND, MIL, PHI
UPDATE: Thunder re-sign Mohammed to 1-year, $3.75 million deal
9. Spencer Hawes, 76ers (RFA)
A change of scenery did not do much to help Hawes’ productivity this past season. His qualifying offer is worth a little more than four-million dollars next season so expect Philly to extend that but no team should be banging down his door to steal him from the Sixers with a lucrative contract.
Predicted Contract: Accepts qualifying offer
Possible Destinations: PHI
10. Nenad Kristic, Celtics (UFA)
Kristic has started 144 games the past two seasons, but does not bring much more than his size to the floor. He could still find a starting job in the NBA since size is always in need, and since he should come at a rather affordable rate, he should find decent interest on the open market.
Predicted Contract: 3-years, $9 million
Possible Destinations: TOR, CHA, MIL, DET, SAC, BOS
Other Center Free Agents:
Louis Amundson (PO), Tony Battie (UFA), Kwame Brown (UFA), Jason Collins (UFA), Eddy Curry (UFA), Erick Dampier (UFA), Francisco Elson (UFA), Melvin Ely (UFA), Kyrylo Fesenko (UFA), Jeff Foster (UFA), Dan Gadzuric (UFA), Aaron Gray (UFA), Hamed Haddadi (RFA), Chuck Hayes (UFA), Chris Johnson (UFA), Solomon Jones (UFA), Jamaal Magloire (UFA), Josh Powell (UFA), Joel Przybilla (UFA), Theo Ratliff (UFA), Joe Smith (UFA), Kurt Thomas (UFA)
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POINT GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SHOOTING GUARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SMALL FORWARD RANKINGS
CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POWER FORWARD RANKINGS
David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank. He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.
You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.Follow paulmbanks