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Andre Drummond could be one of the best centers on the free-agent market this offseason. However, there’s a good chance he’ll accept his player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers for next season and won’t actually end up available for teams to sign.
But there should still be some talented post players on the market, many of whom have plenty of NBA experience and could provide veteran leadership to a team in addition to solid play.
Here’s a look at who will likely be on the free-agent market this offseason, including predictions for where each will land.
After helping the Toronto Raptors win their first championship in 2019, veteran center Marc Gasol decided to stay with the team another year, accepting a player option for the 2019-20 season worth $25.6 million.
However, at 35, Gasol has shown signs of his age, as he’s been limited to 36 games because of a left hamstring injury and is averaging career lows in points (7.6) and rebounds (6.3) per contest.
But Gasol can still be a valuable veteran presence on a team with NBA title aspirations, and that’s a role he could continue to serve for the Raptors in the near future. Gasol is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, though, so perhaps other teams will have interest in swaying him away from Toronto.
A three-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA selection, Gasol has had a solid career that has now spanned 12 seasons. But he likely won’t command a large salary next season, so not only could he provide nice depth in the post, he could be affordable.
If the 2019-20 NBA season resumes, perhaps the Raptors go on another run, Gasol helps them win back-to-back titles and he decides to retire. But if not, there’s no reason to think he won’t return to Toronto and try to help it win one more title before the end of his career.
Prediction: Gasol re-signs with Raptors
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Although Hassan Whiteside has been a bit inconsistent throughout his NBA career, he’s proved over the past six seasons that he’s a solid big man to have on a roster, as he’s averaged double-digits in points and rebounds each of those years.
This season, Whiteside has had one of his best showings in his first year with the Portland Trail Blazers. Over 61 contests, he’s averaged 16.3 points and a career-high 14.2 rebounds per game, while also averaging an NBA-best 3.1 blocks per game. With a strong season, Whiteside may have increased the number of teams that will be interested in him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
One potential fit for Whiteside this offseason could be the Charlotte Hornets, who could benefit from adding one of the top centers on the market. Whiteside has put up better numbers than Cody Zeller throughout his career, and he could pair nicely with PJ Washington to give Charlotte better production in the frontcourt.
If the NBA’s salary cap for next season decreases because of the coronavirus pandemic, then the Hornets might need to clear some space in order to add Whiteside. But the guess here is that they’ll find a way to do that and add a dominant big man that they need below the basket.
Prediction: Whiteside signs with Hornets
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While Mason Plumlee may not have quite lived up to expectations after signing a three-year, $41 million deal with the Denver Nuggets prior to the 2017-18 season, he’s been a valuable bench player and strong backup to Nikola Jokic. And there’s a chance that his role won’t be changing after his contract is up.
This season, Plumlee has averaged 7.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 53 games. His numbers may be down from his time in Portland earlier in his career, but at 30, he should still have numerous years remaining of being a valuable role player.
There’s no reason to think that Plumlee won’t stay in Denver beyond this season, as the Nuggets have been one of the Western Conference’s top teams this year and have the potential to be an NBA title contender. Plumlee has never won a championship, and neither have the Nuggets, so he may want to stay around to try to help them do so.
Although Plumlee’s next deal won’t be as lucrative, expect him to stay in a good situation in Denver for at least another season or two.
Prediction: Plumlee re-signs with Nuggets