NBA Free Agents 2011: 7 Players the Atlanta Hawks Should Consider for Center

John Boller@jboll0327Correspondent IJune 29, 2011

NBA Free Agents 2011: 7 Players the Atlanta Hawks Should Consider for Center

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    The Atlanta Hawks did what they needed to do and drafted a center with their only pick in 2011 Draft.

    With the selection of Keith Benson with the 48th overall pick, Atlanta made forward progress on what should be a busy off season once there is a new CBA.

    The Hawks still have to decide about free agent Jamal Crawford, is Josh Smith’s future in Atlanta, and a center is still needed.

    Benson is not ready to help Atlanta become a contender in the NBA.

    There are over 30 free agent centers for the Hawks to choose from, with a few of them who could change the identity of the Hawks and make them a contender.

Chris Wilcox, C, Detroit Pistons

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    Wilcox had a breakout season for himself after having his best per-minute numbers with the Detroit Pistons in 2010, averaging 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds per 40 minutes.

    Wilcox is a nine-year veteran and would be a good option if the Hawks are unable to attract the more impressive big men available. Plus, he would be cheap.

Samuel Dalembert, C, Sacramento Kings

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    One thing is for sure, Samuel Dalembert will not return to the Sacramento Kings next season.

    He would be a good fit in Atlanta because he is exactly what the Hawks do not have, a consistent shot-swatting, shot-altering and rebound-guzzling machine.

    Dalembert also comes with a decent set of offensive skills, good enough to make teams respect him on the offensive end because of his ability to attack the glass.

    He is not the No. 1 option available for the Hawks, but he would not be an empty addition.

Chuck Hayes, C, Houston Rockets

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    The only downside to Chuck Hayes is the fact that he is only 6’6”, giving Atlanta their usual out-of-place center.

    But Hayes has shown the ability to be an NBA starter night after night. He started 63 games last year and finished with 8.6 points and 8.7 rebounds a game.

    Despite the height disadvantage, Hayes has a presence on the defensive end and it looks like the Rockets are going to let him go after this year’s draft.

Yao Ming, C, Houston Rockets

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    Yao Ming has not been on the court lately, but he is still available as a free agent.

    It is still not certain if his ankle will ever be right, but time is on his side with the current potential lockout situation in the NBA.

    I also would not expect Ming to be that expensive. Depending on how things fall, Atlanta could give Ming an offer and a chance to get back his career.

Nene, C, Denver Nuggets

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    Nene should be one of the more coveted free agents. He is a great defensive presence that usually gives his teammates fast breaks, cleans up the glass and finishes with power on the offensive end.

    His stay in Denver may have reached its end and the Hawks should make a strong effort to try and bring him to Atlanta.

    He would be great for the team and change the team’s identity.

Tyson Chander, C, Dallas Mavericks

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    Tyson Chandler has played his way into cashing in on some serious money. The Mavericks were a similar story to the current Hawks, a team without a center.

    Chandler played a huge part in winning the NBA Championship for Dallas.

    He changes the game defensively, is a workhorse on the glass and like Nene, finishes with power on the offensive end.

    Many teams will be trying to get Chandler and the Hawks should be one of them.

Marc Gasol, C, Memphis Grizzlies

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    A return of the Gasol to Atlanta would be the best move the Hawks could make if they pulled it off.

    The Hawks originally drafted Marc Gasol’s brother, Pau, and it seems only fair that we get to have one of them play for our team.

    Like Chandler, Gasol will have money thrown his way, including from his current team, the Grizzles. Gasol dominated this postseason, poised to breakout the start of a great career.