NBA Free Agency: Top 5 Free Agent Centers

Apr 12, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) is defended by Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) during the first quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 12, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) is defended by Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) during the first quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

As NBA Free Agency 2016 began arguably the biggest surprise was how quickly centers were being snatched up.

Given 21 teams can offer max contracts this year there will be obvious players who’ll attract major attention from copious teams.  In an effort to help fans track who to keep an eye on SCS outlines the top 5 coveted players at each position for your perusal.

Next up the centers:

Andre Drummond

Again though Andre Drummond would rank at the top he’ll no doubt sign back with the Pistons so I’m not including him in the top 5.  (and while crafting this piece that’s exactly what happened)

Marc Stein reports Andre #Drummond & Detroit nearing 5year/$130M MAX deal #NBAFreeAgency

— Tamberlyn's Tip-Off (@TTOTambz) July 1, 2016

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 16.2

Rebounds: 14.8

Assists: 0.8

Steals: 1.5

Blocks: 1.4

Field Goal Percent: 52.1%

ESPN sources say Andre Drummond's five-year, $130 million max deal with Detroit, meanwhile, is done. Player option for Drummond after Year 4

— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2016

Hassan Whiteside

Early free agency news had the Dallas Mavericks wooing Hassan Whiteside  and he was suitably impressed. Then Heat GM Pat Riley came in to talk to their center and misted him with tails of how the Heat would capture another title. Seriously, I don’t know what Riley said, but suffice to say his mist is strong!

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 14.2

Rebounds: 11.8

Assists: 0.4

Steals: 0.6

Blocks: 3.7

Field Goal Percent: 60.6%

Hassan #Whiteside initial leaning toward Mavs gets thwarted by #PatRileyMist who gets C to sign 4year $98M MAX deal #NBAFreeAgency #Heat

— Tamberlyn's Tip-Off (@TTOTambz) July 1, 2016

Miami HEAT center Hassan Whiteside has decided to stay in Miami.

— Miami Now (@MiamiCP) July 1, 2016

His announcement came courtesy of Snap Chat, yet another sign of how social media has changed the landscape of sports.

Hassan Whiteside showing us free agency in the social media age

— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) July 1, 2016

Joakim Noah

While there may have been many who had other centers on their top 5 list, I assumed (correctly) that Joakim Noah would garner significant interest from several teams. His combination of skills is hard to find and his effect on a locker room is unsurpassed.

Expect him to revel in the New York spotlight and offer classic sound bites that Knicks fans will eat up.

Don’t examine last year’s stats as an example of what to expect given his injury and disenchantment with new head coach Fred Hoiberg. He says he’s in the best shape of his life, so while I’m not sold on this newly assembled Knicks squad, I do expect Noah to make an impact.  I mean hey, even the way he silently announced his decision is one of a kind:

Noah's Instagram would suggest he's headed to NY

— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) July 1, 2016

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 4.3

Rebounds: 8.8

Assists: 3.8

Steals: 0.6

Blocks: 1.0

Field Goal Percent: 38.3%

Joakim Noah will meet with the Knicks Friday in Orlando. Sides nearing agreement on a 4-year deal worth $72 million, sources said

— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 1, 2016

Dwight Howard

Well the Rockets and Dwight Howard era is over in H-Town with the big man moving on to a team which brings him back to his roots in Atlanta. For obvious reasons it was widely expected his exit was all but a foregone conclusion.

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 13.7

Rebounds: 11.8

Assists: 1.4

Steals: 1.0

Blocks: 1.6

Field Goal Percent: 62.0%

Strained relationship between #Rockets & Dwight #Howard comes to an end as big man returns home to #Hawks on 3yr $70.5M deal #NBAFreeAgency

— Tamberlyn's Tip-Off (@TTOTambz) July 2, 2016

Career earnings of Dwight #Howard are $163.5M & adds $70.5M in Hawks deal GDP of Oregon is $225M #ItsAllRelative #NBAFreeAgency

— Tamberlyn's Tip-Off (@TTOTambz) July 2, 2016

Bismack Biyombo

Perhaps no player had their free agency bolstered in the post season as much as Bismack Biyombo who stepped up in the absence of Jonas Valanciunas. He got in LeBron James head and many were left wondering if the Raptors had been able to dispense of the Pacers and Heat sooner if the final result may have been different.

The problem facing the Raptors now is they don’t have the cap space to sign Biyombo since they don’t hold his Bird Rights. Reportedly he is in L.A. where Toronto GM Masai Ujiri met with DeRozan to settle his 5-year deal.

As I stated in my Free Agent Team profile article it certainly seems Ujiri has something up his sleeve given his choice to draft 2 big men. With Valanciunas, Nogueira and 2 rookies all on the staff it seems logical to anticipate a move coming.

The Raptors also had to wait for the poison pill provision to end on Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas rookie extension deals. Though the team may just let Biyombo leave it does appear both the player and the franchise would like to work something out since Bismack has become integral to the squad and is considered by many to be their soul, much like the type of energy Joakim Noah is known for.

Still others cite the fact Biyombo’s uprising could be painted into a 6-week window and point to his lack of offense.

That said, the longer he remains unsigned the more likely Ujiri is to pull a trade to create cap space to sign keep the Raptors heart and soul.

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 5.5

Rebounds: 8.0

Assists: 0.4

Steals: 0.2

Blocks: 1.6

Field Goal Percent: 54.2%

Festus Ezeli

Like his teammate Barnes, Festus Ezeli will have to await the Durant hunt until his future is decided. He regressed this season however, so don’t expect the Warriors to be excited about over paying him.

Then again with Andrew Bogut beginning to show his age the Warriors are desperately in need of a big who can protect the paint and also contend against teams like the Thunder who offer length.

2015-16:  per game stats

Points: 7.0

Rebounds: 5.6

Assists: 0.7

Steals: 0.4

Blocks: 1.1

Field Goal Percent: 54.8%

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The only players on the above list who have inked deals are Jefferson who joins the massively retooled Pacers and Mozgov who’ll move to LA to play with the young Lakers.

SCS will update as free agency news develops. For now if you’re a fan who wants to follow free agency closely consider checking out my Free Agency Profiles for all 30 teams:

Next: Free Agency Profiles for all 30 Teams

And early free agent signings:

Next: First 12 hours of Free Agency

Along with articles covering the draft:

Next: Reviewing the top 30 Draft Picks

Next: SCS Editor Mock Draft

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