NBA Free Agents 2011 Predictions: Where the 5 Best Centers Could Sign
In the NBA, capable big men are hard to find, which is why they are such a hot commodity.
The free-agency period is set to begin December 9th, and with its start, expect to see teams flock toward the best centers that will be available.
Not every team in the league is in a position to be lusting after Dwight Howard next summer, so now is the time for them to get their big-man shopping done. The top centers on the market will have their work cut out for them in terms of deciding where to take their talents.
And that's not exactly an unfavorable predicament to find themselves in.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Largely due to the fact that he plays the toughest position in the game, Samuel Dalembert will top numerous teams' wish list of potential big-men additions.
The 30-year-old Dalembert averaged 8.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game last season for the Sacramento Kings. He is a strong defender who is going to block a lot of shots and is going to grab his share of rebounds.
While Dalembert is not a real threat on the offensive end, his defensive abilities will render multiple teams smitten. Potential landing spots include Houston, New York and Miami. Dalembert was recently quoted as saying he was intrigued by the possibility of playing with Miami, and who could blame him?
The Heat can only offer Dalembert the mid-level exception, and although it is possible another team could offer him more money, the temptation of contending for titles for the foreseeable future may be too good to pass up.
Prediction: Samuel Dalembert Signs with Miami Heat
The 23-year-old DeAndre Jordan is bound to draw a ton of league-wide interest once free agency begins.
Jordan averaged 7.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in nearly 26 minutes per game last season. He is notably athletic and navigates the floor extremely well. His shot-blocking skills are amazing and he has begun to polish off his offensive game as well.
As a restricted free agent, the Los Angeles Clippers have the ability to match any offer Jordan receives. While this will not prevent teams from taking a look at him, the only thing competing offers will accomplish is drive up the price on the center for the Clippers.
Los Angeles is not about to let this promising youngster escape their clutches.
Prediction: DeAndre Jordan Signs with Los Angeles Clippers
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
The 29-year-old Tyson Chandler had one of the most consistent seasons of his career with the Dallas Mavericks last year, and one that resulted in a championship ring.
Chandler averaged 10.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, proving to be a force in the paint. He is a fierce rebounder and shot-blocker, and has refined his low-post offense quite a bit.
After winning a championship, Chandler may be keen on returning to Dallas to try and compete for another one. That being said, there will be additional teams that come into play, like the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings.
In a center-starved league, Chandler is going to be a hot commodity. However, any teams that come out of the woodwork to offer him a contract may only succeed in driving up his price.
The thought of Chandler abandoning the team that he just won a championship with just doesn't sit right.
Prediction: Tyson Chandler Signs with Dallas Mavericks
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Nene Hilario boasts the perfect balance of athleticism and toughness, and it is because of this that he will be a highly coveted target when the free-agency period begins.
Last season, Nene averaged 14.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and one block per game. He is incredibly quick for his position and has a great touch around the basket. His defense is also one of the more underrated facets of his game, as he is capable of defending players taller and heavier than himself.
The Portland Trail Blazers are among the teams interested in acquiring his services, as are the New Jersey Nets. Additionally, the Houston Rockets seem to have such a strong interest in him that they will consider taking their team in a new direction if they don't obtain him.
While we cannot rule the Nuggets coming into play either, the fact that Houston is placing so much stock in the center is more than noteworthy. The nine-year veteran is not used to that kind of appreciation.
Prediction: Nene Hilario Signs with Houston Rockets
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
The 26-year-old Marc Gasol really started to come into his own last season, so much so that he is bound to appear on any team's radar that is in the market for a center.
Gasol averaged 11.7 points, seven rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game last season. He runs the floor extremely well and has a nice touch around the basket. His shot-blocking tendencies are admirable, and when he gets in position, he can be a tremendous rebounder.
The Memphis Grizzlies certainly want to hold onto the young center, and Gasol has stated that he would like to return to the team. Other teams are sure to come into play and contact the Grizzlies about a potential sign-and-trade, but Memphis has the cap and seems to have a willingness to spend, and that gives them an edge.
It also doesn't hurt that Gasol is unlikely to want to jump off the team's bandwagon, as the Grizzlies are a team clearly on the rise.
Prediction: Marc Gasol Signs with Memphis Grizzlies
You can follow Dan Favale on Twitter here @Dan_Favale.