After previously ranking the top point guards, shooting guards, small forwards and power forwards set to hit the open market this offseason, the last group left to highlight are the best centers up for grabs:
1. Andre Drummond – Player Option – Cleveland Cavs:
While it’s not yet official, it has been widely assumed for months that Drummond would wisely pick up his $28.7 million option for the 2020-21 season. Marc Stein of the New York Times confirmed Monday that league sources expect Drummond to opt-in. Considering the diminishing value of back-to-the-basket big men in today’s NBA, the decision is a no-brainer.
2. Montrezl Harrell – Unrestricted – Los Angeles Clippers:
Harrell averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots in 27.8 minutes per game for the Clippers last season, which earned him the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award. ‘Trez will be looking to cash in and become a starter when he officially becomes a free agent and can sign a lucrative new long-term contract this weekend.
3. Serge Ibaka – Unrestricted – Toronto Raptors:
With Marc Gasol sidelined for much of 2019-20, Ibaka stepped in and stepped up for Toronto, averaging a career-high 15.4 points to go along with 8.2 rebounds and 1.3 made three-pointers. Raptors president Masai Ujiri has said that re-signing Ibaka would be a priority for the franchise this offseason. However, several other clubs, including the Lakers, are expected to make a serious run at the established, versatile veteran.
4. Christian Wood – Unrestricted – Detroit Pistons:
Wood is arguably the biggest wildcard among all 2020 free agents. Last summer, he had to settle for a non-guaranteed one-year contract. Yet, after the Pistons dumped Drummond in a mid-season trade, Wood was inserted into the starting lineup and put up some awe-inspiring numbers. Over the final 13 games of 2019-20, Wood averaged 22.8 points (on 56.2% shooting), 9.9 rebounds, 1.7 made 3-pointers, and 1.0 blocks. Were these numbers an aberration, or is the 25-year-old Wood the real deal? Which team is willing to roll the dice to find out?
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5. Hassan Whiteside – Unrestricted – Trail Blazers:
Whiteside put up some terrific individual statistics for the Blazers during the 2019-20 regular season. In 67 appearances, he averaged 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in 30 minutes a night. In the process, he became just the second player in league history to achieve those per-game averages in those categories while also shooting north of 60% from the floor. Yet, with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins under contract, and the Blazers having traded for Robert Covington earlier this week, the writing’s on the wall for Whiteside in Portland. He’ll land somewhere else next season.
Best of the Rest:
Marc Gasol – Unrestricted – Toronto Raptors
Tristan Thompson – Unrestricted – Cleveland Cavaliers
Aron Baynes – Unrestricted – Phoenix Suns
Dwight Howard – Unrestricted – L.A. Lakers
DeMarcus Cousins – Unrestricted – L.A. Lakers
Chris Boucher – Restricted – Toronto Raptors
Dario Saric – Restricted – Phoenix Suns
Jakob Poeltl – Restricted – San Antonio Spurs
Kelly Olynyk – Player Option – Miami Heat
JaVale McGee – Player Option – L.A. Lakers
Nerlens Noel – Unrestricted – Oklahoma City Thunder
Source: Forbes – Business