2013 Free Agent Profiles: Centers
What to expect from the available centers this offseason.
by Jake Fischer / @JakeLFischer
With the NBA calendar now flipped to ’13-14 campaign, free agency has officially begun. And even though nobody can put a pen on paper before July 10, teams are free to meet with free agents any time they’d please and offer players loads of money. Since free agency can usually be insane with rumors and sources tossed around, SLAM is here to help break down the top-5 free agents at each position. You can check out all of our 2013 Free Agent Profiles here and scroll through my opinions on what to expect from the free-agent centers below.
1. Dwight Howard
’12-13 Team: Lakers
’12-13 Contract: $19.3 million
’12-13 Stats: 17.1 ppg, 12.9 rpg, 2.4 bpg
Potential Contract: Five years/ $118 million
Potential Teams: Lakers, Rockets, Mavericks, Hawks, Warriors
Despite his attitude problem, questionable health and declining reputation, Howard still has teams lining up to bring his services to their home arena for 41 games next season. Obviously, he’s still a tremendous rebounder and defensive presence, so he clearly does have tons of value. Whether he’s worth mega-max money will be known in a few years. The most interesting facet of the “D12-Sweepstakes” is that he could turn any of his suitors—excluding the Hawks—into the 1-seed in the Western Conference Playoffs next spring while all those teams could all easily miss the Playoffs without him.
2. Al Jefferson
’12-13 Team: Jazz
’12-13 Contract: $15 million
’12-13 Stats: 17.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.4 bpg
Potential Contract: Three years / $36 million
Potential Teams: Five Howard suitors, Celtics, Spurs, Jazz, Cavaliers
Jefferson is going to be in high demand once Dwight Howard signs with one of his five possible destinations. But he also has the potential to go several other places. He could return to Boston in a sign-and-trade for Kris Humphries, depending on what direction the Celtics want to go. San Antonio could replace Tiago Splitter with Jefferson too and, of course, he could easily return back to Utah to pair with Trey Burke. He could also be a huge asset for the Cavs if they want to make some noise in the Playoffs.
3. Nikola Pekovic
’12-13 Team: Timberwolves
’12-13 Contract: $4.6 million
’12-13 Stats: 16.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 0.8 bpg
Potential Contract: Four years / $50 million
Potential Teams: Five Howard suitors, Timberwolves, Spurs, Cavaliers
The same goes for the Pekovic as it does for Jefferson. But Pekovic is younger, has no injury history and might just be the League’s best-kept secret that a team feels is ready to breakout next season. Then again, the Wolves could easily retain the big man and go with Pek, Love and Rubio to contend for a Playoff spot.
4. Andrew Bynum
’12-13 Team: Philadelphia 76ers
’12-13 Contract: $16.5 million
’12-13 Stats: N/A
Potential Contract: Three years / $30 million
Potential Teams: Five Howard suitors, Cavaliers, Heat
Bynum is another guy who could be added by a team that misses out on Howard, but he is obviously the riskiest. Bynum of course didn’t play a minute for the Sixers last season and he’s reportedly not going to work out for teams to prove the health of his knees. With that in mind, I don’t see anyone outside of the Howard suitors besides the Cavs and Heat taking a chance on him. On the right deal, Bynum has the right level of risk/reward for a Cavs team on the verge of the Playoffs, and the Heat clearly have the talent to compensate for a Bynum failure as well.
5. Chris Kaman
’12-13 Team: Dallas Mavericks
’12-13 Contract: $8 million
’12-13 Stats: 10.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.8 bpg
Potential Contract: One year / $6.5 million
Potential Teams: Heat, Cavaliers, Spurs, Timberwolves, Celtics
Unlike Jefferson, Pekovic and Bynum, Kaman isn’t a guy who will go to one of the unlucky Howard suitors. Kaman won’t drastically change a team’s contending abilities for the next three years, but he is a guy who could be a solid one-year rental to patch a need on a Playoff team.