The upcoming class of both restricted and unrestricted free agents is quite an impressive crop at first glance. Don’t expect this to be like the free agent class of 2010, with many of the NBA’s top players now settled. The center pool has a few good options, but there is not a star in the group. There are a few good starters, but no big difference makers.
Best 2014 Free Agent Centers
Unrestricted | 30 years old | 2013-14 Salary: $7.73M | Washington Wizards
After being traded from the Suns in an attempt to tank (which didn’t work), Gortat helped the Wizards make it to the second round of the playoffs by essentially being the fourth option (scoring 13-14 ppg and grabbing 9.5 rpg). Unless another team makes a “toxic” offer to Gortat, I don’t see the Wizards letting him walk. Because of Gortat’s age this is probably his last chance at a big contract. I’d expect a $8M - $11M a year contract for three or four years.
Forecast: Back to the Wizards
Unrestricted | 26 years old | 2013-14 Salary: $6.5M | Cleveland Cavaliers
Still only 26 years old, Spencer Hawes arguably had his best season as a pro (13 ppg, 8.3 rpg). Granted, the teams he played for left quite a bit to be desired. Hawes is an excellent outside shooter which on a team with players that like to get into the paint, is a good asset. Most likely he is the first big man off the bench somewhere, not a starter.
Forecast: Latches onto a playoff team with minimal depth as their third big man, making somewhere in the $5M-$7M. (I’d say Clippers, but with the racial tension already in place there, I am not sure a white player with Barack Obama toilet paper is the best fit, not that they could afford him.)
Unrestricted | 32 years old | 2013-14 Salary: $2.1M | Los Angeles Lakers
It’s hard to tell how much Kaman really has left in the tank. He didn’t get any extended run with the Lakers, and when he did he was inconsistent. His injuries are a concern, but he’s still 7 feet tall and fairly skilled. A one year deal in the $1.5M-$2.5M (or part of an MLE) would seem to be his best option. He'll need to prove that he can still play and then can possibly get a multi-year deal the following year.
Forecast: A team over the cap that needs some added depth, most likely a playoff contender like the Knicks, Clippers or Blazers.
Player Option | 31 years old | 2013-14 Salary: $6.4M | Phoenix Suns
With a player option for $6.8M next season, and already 31 years old, it’s hard to see why Frye would opt out. He had a decent year in a franchise revitalizing season for the Suns, and it’s a good fit offensively for him. He helps spread the floor for Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe (assuming he returns) to drive. The only way he doesn’t return is if he thinks another suitor can guarantee more years and with at least a near equivalent salary.
Forecast: Returns to Suns.
Unrestricted | 35 years old | 2013-14 Salary: $2M | Golden State Warriors
O’Neal will be 36 years old to start the next season, and despite the great year in Phoenix two seasons ago, his year with the Warriors saw him injured quite a bit while he still put up decent production. O’Neal can still provide some depth, but he’ll be hard to count on. Another one year deal at $1M-2M seems most likely.
Forecast: Any contender that will have him, including back with the Warriors.
Unrestricted | 31 years old | 2013-14 Salary: $14.5M | Phoenix Suns
Okafor will need to sign a cheap one year deal with someone to prove he can even stay on the court.
Forecast: Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks
2014 NBA Free Agent Centers Per Game Statistics
Other centers that could make an impact:
Unrestricted | 29 years old | 2013-14 Salary: $1.5M | Atlanta Hawks
Unrestricted | 26 years old | 2013-14 Salary: $0.88M | Miami Heat
Unrestricted | 28 years old | 2013-14 Salary: $2.67M | New Orleans Pelicans
Unrestricted | 36 years old | 2013-14 Salary: $1.4M | Chicago Bulls