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Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond are among the top post players who could be on the free-agent market this offseason. But don’t bet on that happening.
Davis has a player option with the Los Angeles Lakers, and while he could decline it, there’s no reason to think he won’t sign a long-term deal to remain in L.A. Drummond also has a player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it would be a surprise if he doesn’t opt in for 2020-21.
So while there may not be a ton of top-tier centers available this offseason, there are still some solid players who could make impacts. Here are predictions for where several of the top likely free-agent centers will land this offseason.
Over the past six seasons, Hassan Whiteside has put up consistent numbers, averaging a double-double in each of those campaigns. However, some years have been better than others for the 7-footer. And entering free agency this offseason, he is coming off one of his best showings.
In his first, and possibly only, season with the Portland Trail Blazers, Whiteside has averaged 16.3 points and a career-high 14.2 rebounds over 61 games while recording an NBA-high 3.1 blocks per contest. He’s also shooting 61.8 percent from the field. This type of season came at an opportune time for Whiteside, who is hitting the market for the first time since signing a four-year deal with the Miami Heat (who later traded him) in July 2016.
The Charlotte Hornets could be one team with interest in Whiteside, as they should be looking to add a top big man to their front court. But even though they should have money to spend, if they go after power forward Montrezl Harrell, that could be their only big move. It might be the better one give Harrell is 26 and Charlotte has not yet reached contender status.
Another potential landing spot for Whiteside could be with the Washington Wizards—if they can afford him. It would make sense to add a top defensive center to their lineup and could help make up for the potential loss of Davis Bertans (who is also set to be a free agent), even though they are different types of players. The move could also help the Wizards reach a level where they could contend in the Eastern Conference in the next few years.
Prediction: Whiteside signs with Washington.
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Since joining the Toronto Raptors in February 2019, Marc Gasol hasn’t put up the biggest numbers. Still, he was a solid contributor while helping the Raptors win the first NBA title in franchise history last season and could continue to fill a veteran leadership role for the team moving forward.
Gasol isn’t the only Toronto player set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, as power forward Serge Ibaka and point guard Fred VanVleet are also poised to hit the market. Gasol could be less of a priority for the Raptors than the other two, but there’s still a chance that he will be back with the team next season.
At this stage in his career, the 35-year-old is likely going to want to play for a top contender so he can try to win another championship before retiring. And while a team like the Golden State Warriors could have interest in Gasol and be an intriguing landing spot for him, there’s also reason to think he would consider taking a team-friendly deal with the Raptors.
It would likely be a short-term agreement at a price point that allows Toronto to bring back Ibaka and/or VanVleet, but the Raptors have been a strong, well-rounded team in recent years, and Gasol might want to continue to be a part of that. The prediction here is that will be what he decides to do.
Prediction: Gasol re-signs with Toronto.
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There aren’t any top-tier centers expected to hit the free-agent market, but there are plenty of solid players at the position for teams to consider signing. Players such as Derrick Favors.
The 28-year-old has spent the majority of his 10-year NBA career with the Utah Jazz, but he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans last July. He’s had a solid season in New Orleans, averaging 9.2 points and a career-high 9.9 rebounds over 45 games while continuing to be a strong defender.
Recently, The Athletic’s Tony Jones said during an appearance on the Game Notes podcast that there’s some mutual interest between Favors and the Jazz about a reunion this offseason. Jones also noted that the Pelicans want to bring back Favors but would rather give him a two-year deal instead of a longer contract.
If Favors returned to Utah, he might have a better chance to make a playoff run, as New Orleans looks to be a couple years from contending while its young players continue to develop. So don’t be surprised if Favors is back in a Jazz uniform in 2020-21, joining a strong frontcourt mix that already includes Rudy Gobert and Ed Davis.
Prediction: Favors signs with Utah.