Mavs 2019 Free Agency: Centers

As we discovered in our previous free agent article, the Mavs have an estimated $52 Million available in the summer of 2019 free agency.  Of the few players that we actually have under contract for next season, none of them are Centers.  DeAndre Jordan signed a one year “see how it goes” contract in the summer of 2018 to finally join the Mavs after the twitter debacle a few years earlier when he signed then changed his mind.

With the rough starts that Mavs have had this year, and the fact that he spurned the organization before, it is easy to say that DeAndre returning in 2019 is less than a sure thing.  Good for Mavs fans though, the 2019 free agent class of Centers is good and fairly deep to the point where Jordan does not even crack the top 5 of Centers that could possibly be available for the Mavs to add around Luka Doncic, Harrison Barnes, and Dennis Smith Jr.

Other Free-Agency Articles:

Mavs Free Agent Christmas List

Mavs Free Agency: Point Guards

Mavs Free Agency: Shooting Guards

Mavs Free Agency: Small Forwards

Mavs Free Agency:  Power Forwards

Mavs Free Agency:  Cap Space

*Warning: there may be explicit language in highlight videos.

RFA – Restricted Free Agent
UFA – Unrestricted Free Agent
PO – Player Option
TO – Team Option
Career Earnings – Money earned by NBA salary through the 2018-2019 season, does not include 2019 Option amount.
  1.  Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Type Age  2018 Salary  2019 Option  Career Earnings
PO 33  $ 24 M  $ 25.6 M  $ 155 M
’18-’19 10 32.8 42% 44% 80% 8.9 4.2 0.8 2 14.4
Career 726 33.7 49% 35% 78% 7.7 3.4 1.5 0.9 15.1

Gasol does it all. He has anchored one of the top defenses in the league for years, can score inside, can score outside, and he distributed with the precision of a guard.

Gasol being 33 is a little bit concerning but I think his game will age very well. He has never been one to beat opponents with speed or athleticism, he wins with skill and savvy.

Also, doesn’t hurt that signing Gasol would steal him away from Southwest Division rival Memphis Grizzlies. He would also be a great mentor to Luka Doncic, he is from Spain where Luka has spent the last 6 years playing for Real Madrid.

2.  Al Horford, Boston Celtics

Type Age  2018 Salary  2019 Option  Career Earnings
PO 32  $ 28.9 M  $ 30.1 M  $ 160.7 M
’18-’19 10 29.8 45% 29% 71% 6.2 4 1.2 0.7 12.4
Career 728 33.1 52% 37% 75% 8.5 3.2 1.2 0.8 14.1

Most of what was said about Marc Gasol can be applied here.  Horford is a complete basketball players that does whatever the team needs to get the win.  Similar age as Gasol, similar player options available to them, but right now it is hard to see Horford leaving Boston as they are one of the few elite teams in the Eastern Conference and just made it to the Finals without Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward.  Horford to the Mavs seems very unlikely but I would love to have this winner on our team.

3.  DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State Warriors

Type Age  2018 Salary  2019 Option  Career Earnings
UFA 29  $   5.3 M N/A  $ 84.6 M
’17-’18 48 36.2 47% 35% 75% 12.9 5.4 1.6 1.6 25.2
Career 535 32.4 46% 34% 74% 11 3.2 1.2 1.4 21.5

This is the most talented guy on this list. Cousins has proven he can be an absolute dominant force no matter who he is matched up against. Just look at his stat line from 2017 and you can easily see he is on a different level then most other Centers. But his style of play, mindset, and injury history is was makes me hesitant to make him the top Center on the market.

Cousins, a.k.a Boogie, tore his achilles in January of 2018, an injury that will most likely keep him out for a majority of this season.  The plan seems to be to try to return a month before the postseason to try to integrate with the rest of the Warriors for the playoff run.  Even when he returns it seems unlikely that we will see vintage Boogie.

Even if he was 100% healthy I don’t think he is the type of center that the Mavericks are looking for.  Frankly, he dribbles too much.  We have two primary ball handlers as our building blocks and bringing in a big man who tries to do too much, and habitually is among the league leaders in turnovers (5 per game in 2017-2018), seems risky.

4.  Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic

Type Age  2018 Salary  2019 Option  Career Earnings
UFA 28  $ 13.3 M N/A  $       56.5 M
‘18-‘19 11 29.7 53% 45% 76% 10.4 3.7 1.3 1.1 17.5
Career 467 29.8 50% 32% 73% 9.8 2.2 0.9 0.8 14.9

The casual NBA fan has probably never even heard of Nikola Vucevic and the reason is because he plays for the Orlando Magic.  He is a really good scorer, rebounder, and passer but has been wasting 6 years in Orlando after being traded from Philadelphia as part of the Andrew Bynum deal that started the 76ers tanking process.  I would love to see what Vucevic could do with a team around him, the best player he has played with is probably Victor Oladipo, and that was in his first few years before the became the player he is today.

Value comes into play this with ranking as I am not sure the Magic are going to come at Vucevic with a big offer.  The magic are building around a core of Aaron Gordon (PF), Mo Bamba (C), and Jonathan Isaac (F).  With all 3 of their core players being in the frontcourt, I find it unlikely they will want to invest major resources in Vucevic since they are so far away from being contenders.  This seems like a great opportunity for the Mavs to swoop in and lock up a legitimate starting center for the next 3-4 years while he is in his prime.

5.  Hassan Whiteside, Miami Heat

Type Age  2018 Salary  2019 Option  Career Earnings
PO 29  $ 25.4 M  $ 27.1 M  $ 74.6 M
’18-’19 9 28.3 50% 17% 61% 15.2 0.3 3.4 0.3 14.2
Career 280 26.8 57% 38% 63% 11.5 0.5 2.5 0.6 13.7

Whiteside is an elite shot blocker and rebounder. He is currently the league leader in blocks and one of only 3 players in the NBA to average at least 3 blocks per game (Whiteside, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee).  He’s also second in the league in rebounding behind Andre Drummond, the only two players to average at least 15 rebounds per game.  Needless to say, Whiteside is off the great start this season.

Whiteside has a player option this off-season and it is not too crazy to think he will turn down the $27 million.  He is 29 years old and it may be good for him to ink a longer term deal while he is healthy and on the under side of 30.  There is also the saga between he and head coach Eric Spoelstra which culminated in Whiteside receiving only 15 minutes per game in the 5 game playoff series against Joel Embiid and the 76ers and Whiteside giving the following quote “It’s bullshit It’s really bullshit, man. There’s a lot of teams that could use a center. Shit. That’s bullshit.”

6.  DeAndre Jordan, Dallas Mavericks

Type Age  2018 Salary  2019 Option  Career Earnings
UFA 31  $ 22.9 M N/A  $ 131.4 M
‘18-‘19 11 33.4 63% 0% 84% 13.9 2.5 1.5 0.6 12.1
Career 761 28.1 67% 9% 45% 10.7 0.8 1.7 0.6 9.5

DeAndre has been ripping down the third most rebounds per game so far this season and nearly doubled his free-throw percentage to 84%, but something just doesn’t seem right with him and the young guys.  And when we are talking about free-agency this summer, it is ALL about building around the young guys.

He still has probably the most vicious dunk of all-time, but watching him this year it doesn’t look like he gets up like that anymore.  There have been a lot of times where Luka or Dennis will throw him an oop that he either inst ready for or doesn’t think he can reach and it just goes sailing over his head.  This may be just a timing issue and something that will take more than 11 games, or, now on the other side of 30 and $130M in his pocket, maybe he isn’t the same 3x All-NBA, 2x Defensive Player of the Year, devastating lob-man that he used to be.

7.  Enes Kanter, New York Knicks

Type Age  2018 Salary  2019 Option  Career Earnings
UFA 27  $ 17.5 M N/A  $ 90.4 M
‘18-‘19 12 27.3 55% 20% 83% 11.7 2.3 0.5 0.5 15.4
Career 528 22 54% 29% 78% 7.4 0.8 0.5 0.4 11.8

Kanter has a nose for the basketball and a knack for scoring around the rim but he does not provide much on defense.  He has never averaged more than .5 blocks per game and he does not space the floor.  Kanter is talented and will make a lot of money this offseason, but I don’t think those checks will be signed by Mark Cuban.

8.  Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings

Type Age  2018 Salary  2019 Option  Career Earnings
RFA 26  $   3,837,619 N/A  $       14,491,219
’18-’19 11 29 58% 0% 53% 8.2 2.4 0.5 1.2 16.5
Career 225 23.1 53% 19% 63% 5.7 1.4 0.8 0.8 9.7

This is Cauley-Stein’s 4th year in the league and he has continued to improve each year.  His great start this season has helped the Sacramento Kings jump out to incredibly surprising 6-5 start.  Once considered to be fairly limited offensively, Willie is averaging nearly 17 points in his restricted free-agency year.  The Kings will have the right to match any offer given to him, and his length and athleticism are intriguing but I am afraid of giving long term deals to a one-hit, contract year performance.

This is the only player on this list to have yet to earn $50 million so this is a guy who is in a position to go get some money.  It will be interesting to see what the Kings do, but for sure I will be keeping a close eye on Willie Cauley-Stein when the Mavs match up with the Kings this season.

9.  Jonas Valunciunas, Toronto Raptors

Type Age  2018 Salary  2019 Option  Career Earnings
PO 26  $ 16.5 M  $ 17.6 M  $ 61.9 M
‘18-‘19 12 19 54% 33% 87% 7.4 1.1 1.1 0.7 13.4
Career 452 25.3 56% 39% 79% 8.5 0.7 1 0.4 11.7

With Jonas you know exactly what you are getting.  He has been in the league for 6 full seasons, and excluding his rookie year, Jonas has averaged between, 11 – 13 points, 8 – 10 boards,  and 0.9 – 1.3 blocks.  He is a big body and a good free throw shooter for a big but I cannot foresee the Mavs spending at least $18 million a year on a guy to average 12 points and 9 rebounds for the next 3 years.

10.  JaVale McGee, Los Angeles Lakers

Type Age  2018 Salary  2019 Option  Career Earnings
UFA 31 $2.4 M N/A $57.5 M
’18-’19 11 26.1 63% 50% 66% 7.2 1.2 3.1 0.8 14.5
Career 569 16.9 56% 12% 58% 4.8 0.4 1.5 0.4 7.6

This is the best highlight film of anybody on the list.  When you watch this video it seems absolutely STUPID that this guys is being paid just $2.3 million this season.

But then there is this…

And suddenly it all makes sense.  A year with the Golden State Warriors and some time spent with the King seem to have made a good impression on JaVale, his numbers so far this season are impressive.  His freakishly long arms make rim-running oops and blocked shots just second nature for him.  If nobody is going to pay more than $5 million for this guy I suggest the Mavericks do.

Other Free Agent Centers:

Player Team Type Age 2018 Salary 2019 Option
Bismack Biyombo CHA PO 26 $17,000,000 $17,000,000
Robin Lopez CHI UFA 31 $13,503,875
Tyson Chandler PHX UFA 36 $13,000,000
Marcin Gortat LAC UFA 35 $12,000,000
Kosta Koufos SAC UFA 30 $8,219,750
Dewayne Dedmon ATL UFA 30 $7,050,000
Boban Marjanovic DET UFA 31 $7,000,000
Dwight Howard WAS UFA 33 $5,470,425
Dwight Howard WAS PO 32 $5,337,000 $5,603,850
Aron Baynes BOS PO 31 $5,193,600 $5,453,280
Kyle O’Quinn IND UFA 29 $4,449,000
Nene Hilario HOU PO 36 $3,651,480 $3,825,360
Brook Lopez MIL UFA 31 $3,382,000
Ekpe Udoh UTH UFA 31 $3,280,000
Amir Johnson PHI UFA 32 $2,393,887
Zaza Pachulia DET UFA 35 $2,393,887
Greg Monroe TOR UFA 29 $2,165,481
Nerlens Noel OKC PO 24 $1,757,429 $1,988,119
Salah Mejri DAL UFA 33 $1,567,007
Ivica Zubac LAL RFA 22 $1,297,506
Khem Birch ORL RFA 27 $1,096,929
Jordan Bell GSW RFA 24 $1,096,929
Thomas Bryant WAS RFA 22 $1,096,929

Other Free-Agency Articles:

Mavs Free Agent Christmas List

Mavs Free Agency: Point Guards

Mavs Free Agency: Shooting Guards

Mavs Free Agency: Small Forwards

Mavs Free Agency:  Power Forwards

Mavs Free Agency:  Cap Space


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