2014 NBA Free Agency: The Top 5 Centers
The 2014 NBA Free Agency period officially opened for business on Thursday, as NBA teams and players that had gone public about verbals commitments could finally sign on the dotted line.
While rumored moves are now finally coming to life, the biggest names remain on the open market for the most part. It’s anyone’s guess when we’ll hear news about the likes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, among others.
While we all wait in great anticipation, let’s survey the free agency landscape by looking at some talented big men. Quite a few teams should look to hold onto or obtain some help at center. Here are the top-five center options that can be had one way or another this summer:
1. Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons) Restricted Free Agent
Monroe is staying in Detroit if they want him, and it’s been made pretty clear that’s the case. He seems to dislike Josh Smith being on his team, which does open the door to one of them being traded (or the Pistons not matching an offer). He’s way too balanced and valuable to let go for nothing, though, so the worst case scenario would probably be a sign and trade situation. Ideally, Detroit gives him the big contract he deserves and Smoove gets shipped out of town.
2. Andrew Bynum (Indiana Pacers) Unrestricted Free Agent
Bynum is a headcase who isn’t the same athletically. He has constant injury ailments, as well as a bad attitude, but few players offer his potential. Still just 26, it’s not impossible Bynum rests up this summer and returns at full strength. Teams like the Mavericks and Knicks could consider him, but there is clearly major risk involved with his knees and character.
3. Emeka Okafor (Phoenix Suns) Unrestricted Free Agent
Okafor isn’t quite what he once was and missed all of last year with a back issue, but he’s still just 31 years old and quite talented. If he’s actually back to full health, he’d make an excellent depth addition for just about anyone, while there’s still hope he could help someone as a more than serviceable starter, too. It’s likely he’d want to latch on with a contender, but his final destination is fairly wide open for now.
The Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are just a few teams that could use his services. If Golden State doesn’t bring back Jermaine O’Neal, Okafor is also a possibility there.
4. Chris “Birdman” Anderson (Miami Heat) Unrestricted Free Agent
Birdman opted out of his final year with the Heat, much like all of the other main players in Miami. Still effective as a high energy guy that sets picks, cleans the glass and blocks shots, Anderson could actually have several suitors to choose from. Odds are he follows LeBron James wherever he goes, though, which should have him signing on with either the Cavaliers or returning to the Heat.
5. Jermaine O’Neal (Golden State Warriors) Unrestricted Free Agent
O’Neal’s best days are behind him and he’s not the greatest defender, but he revived his career considerably with solid play last year and will find another job if he wants to keep playing. He’s getting up there in age and mileage but he can still rebound and score, so he’ll prove to be quite an asset on the open market. A return to the Warriors isn’t out of the question.
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