NBA Roundtable

Top Free Agents: Big Men

In Free Agency on June 30, 2009 at 6:24 am

Also check out the top free agents list for guards and wings

Millsap Boxing Out

This post will look at power forwards and centers. Out and out combo forwards were included in the wings sections.

Top 12 — Unrestricted Big Men

(1) Lamar Odom Signed with the Lakers for $33 million over four years

Lamar Odom is a notch below an All-Star.

A good rebounder, a very good defender, and highly skilled offensive player. He can pass, dribble, decent jumper, good slasher, good but underutilized post game, and an excellent finisher around the rim.

Lamar Odom is also highly erratic and his teams can’t truly rely on him. Due to this flaw, he’s best served as the fourth best player on a high quality team, rather than one of the building blocks somewhere else.

In all likelihood, Odom will be looking at a contract above the MLE. Unfortunately for him, the market isn’t kind and lacks suitors for his talents, so his price could easily be knocked back to $7-8 million, and maybe even further. Odom will be a bargain this summer, because he’s worth around $10 million per annum.

(2) Anderson VarejaoSigned with the Cavaliers for 6 years $60 million

Very good to excellent defensive player. A combo big man capable of playing both the power forward spot and the center position. Good rebounder, and a good garbage man offensively.

Varejao will do the dirty work in the paint for your team. Elite role player and great glue guy.

(3) Antonio McDyess Signed with the Spurs for 3 years MLE

Dice is coming off an excellent season. He was the Detroit Pistons’ best player last season.

Antonio McDyess was one of the best rebounders in the NBA last year, is a very good defender (best pick and roll defender on Detroit), and is a good complementary offensive player. By 6th man standards, Dice can create his own shot once in awhile, but he’s at his best when he’s playing off of other offensive players and using his midrange jumper to devastating effect.

Dice is an excellent role player and he’ll make some contender very happy. He will be worth up to the MLE, but there’s a chance he’ll accept less money to help his new squad. I’d love to see him join the Spurs and round out that starting five for them.

(4) Leon PoweSigned with the Cavaliers for two years at the minimum with a team option on the second season.

Leon Powe is coming off a major injury and won’t return until mid-season. We don’t know for sure what his game will be like when he does return.

Still, a team could offer him a two or three year contract worth $1.5 million per annum, with the second and possibly the third seasons of the contract being team options … by doing so they’ll have one of the best bargains in the league on their books for an extra season or two of healthy Leon Powe. It’s a low risk, high reward situation.

This is a great opportunity for some team who is looking for cheap talent.

Leon Powe is a very good rebounder, a good-to-very good defensive player at the four with good versatility in the type of players he can cover at that position, and is a very good offensive player. He’s best as a garbage man scorer, but he’s so good at finding space, at using pick and rolls, at cutting to the rim off the dribble penetration, of grabbing loose balls, of hustling up the floor, of drawing fouls and getting to the line (best reserve in the league at this) … that for a garbage man, he could easily post an efficient 16-20 points a night if given enough minutes. So he’s a very good offensive player.

Boston will likely hang onto him as the rest of the league recoils due to his injury. He’ll sign a minimum contract or a contract slightly above the minimum.

(5) Zaza Pachulia — Signed with the Hawks for $19 million over four years

Pachulia is an excellent rebounder, a good garbage man offensively, and a decent defender.

His best asset is his size, being one of the few legitimate backup centers with talent in the league … this will make him sought after.

Pachulia is likely to earn a contract in the $4 million to MLE range, likely on a multi-year contract.

(6) Brandon BassSigned with the Orlando Magic for $18 million over four years

Bass is a good backup power forward. He’s a strong defender, an excellent athlete, and one of the best midrange shooting big men in the NBA. His rebounding is below par and holds him back, but he’s a very good player in a 20 minute type role.

Bass will likely be in that $3-4 million range. He’s a nice 7th or 8th man on a good team. He could make do as a serviceable starter if someone was desperate.

(7) Charlie Villanueva — Signed with the Pistons for five years for somewhere between $35-40 million

Very talented player … who doesn’t make the best use of his ability.

Villanueva is a very poor defender, a good rebounder, and a good offensive player. Charlie V has a legitimate inside-outside game and is a matchup nightmare for opposing teams.

He put 16ppg in 27 minutes last season, which is great, but his scoring efficiency was weak which lessened the value of his scoring. This compounded with his very poor defense, makes him an iffy player.

Villanueva is the type of player that plays with a “star mentality” rather than someone who’ll accept and flourish in a smaller role. He needs to be involved offensively, and needs to hoist off shot attempts.

After putting up 16 and 7 in just 27 minutes a night, Villanueva is a near-lock to receive the MLE this summer.

(8) Rasheed Wallace Signed with the Celtics for 3 years MLE

Sheed has lost his legs. As a result his defense has declined considerably. He’s still a very good defender when he’s allowed hang around the rim, where his anticipation, intelligence and quick response rate combined with his shot blocking skills make him a force in the paint, but whenever he’s dragged away from the rim and forced to move those feet (pick and rolls) he becomes a liability in a hurry.

Sheed has never been a great rebounder. He’s a good defensive rebounder because he boxes out very well and grabs a respectable number of boards, but he’s a pathetic offensive rebounder and a below par rebounding overall.

Then we arrive at his offensive game. Wallace has scored about 12 points per game in 32 minutes a night for the past three seasons, which is weak. He is reluctant to use his post game. He’s streaky, and unreliable. He can no longer function as a go-to scorer and is now a complementary option offensively. As such, he’s a very good jump shooting big man, but his scoring efficiency is weak.

Add the injuries, the mental eruptions, the ability to cause his team more damage than other guys, and you have more issues to worry about than you can count on to solve problems.

In other words, he isn’t much of a difference maker.He’s still a solid rotation worthy player, but asking for more is asking for trouble.

Rasheed Wallace is likely to earn an MLE contract this summer, on a one to three year contract. He will be overpaid for his talents.

(9) Drew GoodenSigned with the Mavericks for $5 million over one year

A good offensive player, a very good rebounder, and poor defensive player. That is who Drew Gooden is.

Drew has a nice midrange jumper and a good post game. That combined with his rebounding talents makes him a nice role player for somebody.

Drew’s issues with focus and questionable ability to follow a game plan make him a risky fit on a contender … but there is legit talent there so he’s worth the risk.

Gooden will earn a contract in between $4 million and the MLE next season.

(10) Rasho Nesterovic Signed with the Raptors for $1.9 million for one season

A good backup center … but increasingly there are worries on the horizon.

Rasho started off last season in brilliant form. His rebounding was solid, his passing was excellent, his scoring was good, and his defense was passable. As the season went on, his rebounding and his offense (scoring efficiency, passing) began to fall off and it left the Pacers with a huge void in the middle.

Will this repeat itself next season? Is Rasho done? Or was it just an unfortunate blip? Alas, we don’t know.

Rasho is likely to earn a contract in the $2-3 million range on a one to two year deal. He’d be a nice get for some team, but he’s a riskier addition than advertised. Still, a legit 7 footer backup center, and a skilled one that, those guys are useful and he’ll have several suitors.

(11) Joe SmithSigned with the Hawks for one year at the minimum

Good backup big man. Joe Smith is a solid defender, a solid rebounder and a good offensive player with a money jump shot. He’s a very talented glue guy for a championship team.

It appears that the Cavs may be going in a different direction this summer, so Smith may join a different contender. He’d be a great get for somebody like Boston or San Antonio.

Joe will command a salary south of $2.5 million. Signing for the LLE is a possibility, and it’s also possible that he decides to take a minimum contract to be in his first choice situation.

(12) Chris Andersen — Signed a five year contract worth $25 million with the Nuggets

The Birdman is an excellent energy player off the bench.

He’s a good defender with excellent shot blocking and weak side defense. Andersen is also a good rebounder who does an excellent job of snatching loose balls, but a miserable job of keeping the opposition off the glass. Offensively, he’s a very good garbage man who’s an excellent finisher in the paint.

He’s a superb fourth big in the rotation, or a good first big off the bench.

Andersen is coming off a season which earned him much attention, and he’ll be looking at a minimum for a contract in the Ronny Turiaf range and he could command up to the MLE.

An honourable mention for Chris Wilcox.

Top 4 — Restricted Big Men

We’re down to four talented restricted big men now, with both the Bucks and the Celtics deciding not to make qualifying offers to Charlie Villanueva and Leon Powe respectively.

(1) Paul MillsapThe Utah Jazz matched the Blazers offer sheet, Millsap will be returning to Utah.

Millsap is the second best free agent on the market this summer. He’s an excellent rebounder, a good defender, and good scorer.

Millsap was putting up 18ppg and 11rpg a night, while notching up double-doubles at a rate not seen in the last four or five years, while Carlos Boozer was out of the lineup. This guy is a huge difference maker for some team.

Millsap will be looking for a contract in the $10 million range, and he’ll be good value for it. It’s highly unlikely that Utah lets him leave.

(2) Marcin Gortat — Signed a five year MLE contract with Dallas, but the Orlando Magic matched the offer.

Marcin Gortat is one of my favourite free agents on the market.

I was talking about him as a sleeper a couple of months ago (big fan of his stretching back to the ’07-08 season, hugely underrated and overlooked), but Orlando’s playoff run and his outstanding play (especially vs Phily in game six) earned him mass attention and he’s been talked about by fans and the media across the league for the last few weeks. So I can’t call him a sleeper anymore.

I think Marcin Gortat is a Top 15 center in the NBA today, and I think there’s a good chance he proves himself to be a Top 10 center if given the opportunity.

If Gortat is given a starting role by some team next season, and given 35 or so minutes, this is the type of stat line one should expect from him — 9-12 points per game, 10-12 rebounds per game, and very good to excellent defense — in other words, he’s in the Tyson Chandler territory.

Marcin Gortat is also an excellent athlete and is one of the hardest workers in the league, and that work ethic has resulted in phenomenal improvement over the past two seasons in Orlando, so there’s many reasons to believe he can still improve and progress as a player.

Oh, and my favourite thing about Gortat, he sets some of the best screens in the league. Both on and off the ball. Bone crunching screens that free up his teammates brilliantly.

Price range — I think he’ll sign for $4 million to the MLE, and I think he’s worth twice that money, ergo, I think Gortat is the best bargain on the market this summer.

Any team that needs a starting center should be going after him hard. At that money, and with his talent, he’ll be a superb addition to some team’s rebuilding efforts.

(3) David Lee

A very good rebounder and a good offensive player, but a very poor defender.

David Lee is a 15 points, 11 rebounds, while being insanely efficient type of player. He scores double figures without ever running a play for him, and is a very good pick and roll player.

Lee is a very good player and will command $9-10 million this summer, and will be decent value at that paycheck.

(4) Glen DavisSigned with the Celtics for $6 million over two years

Glen Davis’ play for the Celtics while Kevin Garnett was out injured was a double edged sword.

On one hand, we discovered good scoring skills and a vastly improved midrange jump shot. This was combined with the great floor game and clear intelligence that he possesses for the game of basketball.

On the other hand, his defense declined hugely when playing the power forward slot instead of the backup center position. And, his weak rebounding (6.6 boards per 36 minutes, very poor) caused massive problems.

I also think that Glen Davis is fairly close to his ceiling as a basketball player. I just don’t see much more improvement coming from with one exception, and that’s if he loses the weight (I’ve wanted him to follow and imitate David West since the day he entered the league).

Prior to KG’s non-return from injury, I didn’t think there was a hope in hell that Glen Davis earned more than $3 million a year next season. But all the hoopla and attention he received from around the league, and the 16ppg he put up in the playoffs, has changed all that and made it more likely than not that Big Baby earns that type of coin. Glen Davis could even earn as much as the MLE, although I think he won’t and instead will get a large portion of the MLE (say $3-4 million).

Personally, I’d like to see the Celtics use a $2.5 million cut off point for Davis and let him loose if they get an offer above that. It’s unclear what Danny’s cut off point is ($3+ million on a multiyear deal is my guess).

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