Golden State Warriors: 7 Free Agent Centers Who Could Bolster Frontcourt
So far this offseason, the Golden State Warriors have addressed the team's backcourt issues by adding depth through the draft. The additions of guards Klay Thompson and Charles Jenkins will upgrade the bench and allow the Warriors' starting backcourt to play fewer, more effective minutes.
However, one glaring weakness that still remains to be addressed is the Warriors' lack of a legitimate center to be an interior force on both ends of the court. It's no secret that the team sorely needs an intimidating shot-blocking presence on the inside as well as someone who can catch and score consistently in the post.
Here is a look at the top centers in the free agent market and what they could potentially bring to the Warriors franchise.
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Yes, I am well aware that Yao Ming's career might be over after his latest injury setback. But when it comes to free agent centers, his name has to be mentioned.
Seemingly well on his way to a Hall of Fame career before getting derailed by a myriad of lower-body injuries, Yao is one of the NBA's most tragic what-could-have-been stories. In his best seasons, Yao was a consistent 20 and 10 performer while also averaging two blocks per game.
There is still a chance that with decreased minutes Yao can still be an effective center, while reducing the pounding on his lower extremities and therefore mitigating his injury risks.
If the Warriors could sign him for cheap, it would be a solid risk taken by the front office. It would also boost local interest for a team that already has a large Asian-American community fanbase in the Bay Area.
Edit: Yao Ming has officially retired. We'll miss you, big guy.
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The Blazers have already extended a qualifying offer of $8.8 million to the unfairly maligned big man, who has spent most of his four-year NBA career watching in a suit rather than on the court. This makes Oden a restricted free agent and gives Portland the right to match any other team's offer.
Despite being a huge injury risk, Oden has shown flashes of the potential that Portland was so enamored with when it selected him first overall in 2007. Before he went down with another unfortunate knee injury in 2009, Oden averaged 13 points and eight rebounds in less than 25 minutes per game for the month of February.
When healthy, Oden is an imposing shot-blocker and one of the more promising young centers in the league. The only question is, is he injury prone or just unlucky?
Whatever the reality is, keep in mind that $9 million a year is a large sum to pay for a big man who only played 21 games in 2009-10—and missed last season entirely.
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At 30 years old Dalembert would only be a temporary plug-in as a starting center instead of a real long-term solution. However, the Canadian is a towering 6'11" and can still perform on a much more consistent basis than any of the Warriors' centers right now.
Most importantly, Sammy D is a defensive-minded player, which the Warriors need in order to complement power forward David Lee, who is more offensively oriented.
Last season Dalembert blocked 1.5 shots/game and also pulled down 8.2 RPG, while averaging only 24 minutes with the Kings. He has the ability to join a rare group of centers that can block more than two shots a game if given starter's minutes.
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If the Warriors are indeed trying to ditch the run-and-gun system and opt for a more disciplined half-court type of offense, Pau Gasol's younger brother would actually fit relatively well.
Marc Gasol doesn't do anything spectacularly, but he has the build and skills of a legitimate NBA starter—plus he can actually hit his free throws (75 percent last season). He also competes at a high level every night and produces in pressure situations, something which is not always true for his more talented brother.
Consider this: Marc averaged a stellar 15 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks over 13 playoff games this year, while Pau averaged 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks over 10 playoff games. It's safe to say that Pau is still the more talented of the two, but Marc has definitely closed that gap a little with his playoff performances.
He would be more affordable than some of the other free agents on this list and offers the necessary bulk and post scoring ability to fit the Warriors' needs. However, as Gasol is a restricted free agent and the only true center on the Grizzlies roster, Memphis will probably do everything in its power to retain him.
Potential. That's the key word when it comes to DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers' young center. He exhibits immense athletic ability but maddening inconsistency at the same time.
The Clippers extended a $1.1 million qualifying offer to Jordan last month, according to ESPN. However, both they and the rest of the league know that he's worth more than that. At 6'11" and 265 pounds, the 22-year-old Jordan already possesses the requisite size and athleticism to be a great NBA center.
The only problem is he doesn't yet possess the fundamental skills to match with his jaw-dropping athletic ability. Jordan is extremely raw on the offensive end, and most of his points come on highlight reel dunks. As a defender he is a prolific shot-blocker but still inconsistent in man-to-man defense, often getting himself into foul trouble early.
Aside from his shortcomings, the fact is that Jordan is still only 22 and has just as much potential as any big man in the league. He would fit in perfectly with the Warriors' exciting young core and could blossom into a top-flight center over time.
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This is a tough sell, given how instrumental Chandler was in the team's championship run this year and how high his stock has risen because of his playoff performance. For the Mavericks, re-signing the seven-footer will be priority number one in the offseason—and Chandler will be inclined to stay in Dallas if the price is right.
With that said, the 28-year-old Chandler would be a great fit for the Warriors with his defensive mindset, durability and ability to run the floor. He's one of the few centers in the league that would be able to keep up with Golden State's young guns on the fast break, plus he would significantly improve the team's offensive rebounding.
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As one of the top free agent targets on the market right now, Nene is not within the Warriors' means to sign as a free agent. The most likely scenario in which the Warriors could acquire the big man is a sign-and-trade with the Nuggets.
The 28-year-old Brazilian is one of the few centers in the league with hulking size that can still retain great mobility. He has the strength to bang in the post but can also get out and run on the fast break.
Although the numbers show that he isn't an elite shot-blocker, Nene still changes countless shots in the paint with his length and high activity level. Plus, he creates turnovers with his quick hands and great defensive instincts.
All signs point to Nene being the Warriors' primary target right now. He's been extremely consistent and durable for the past three years and can compete with the NBA's best centers. It's just a matter of whether or not the Warriors have the right trade package to entice Denver.