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Free Agent Frenzy: Cs and RFAs

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Free Agent Frenzy: Cs and RFAs
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The final installment of Free Agent Frenzy discusses centers, restricted FAs and anyone else who had …

The third and final installment of Free Agent Frenzy examines centers entering unrestricted free agency on Tuesday, as well as restricted free agents and other players with contract options. Click here for Part 1 which dealt with PGs and SGs, and click here for Part 2 which dealt with SFs and PFs. Don't read too much into the descending order of players, which moves roughly from most to least important. Where possible I've noted which teams are rumored to have interest in which players, while filling in contextual details and occasionally providing a season outlook.

If I don't mention teams who are interested in a player, it's because I either don't know or won't give credence to specific rumors. This list is still changing as players and teams make last-minute decisions prior to July 1 -- I'll update it as appropriate, but it will never be 100 percent comprehensive.

One final thought...almost every single free agent, restricted or unrestricted, says that they'd like to return to the team they were with last season. Such boiler-plate comments burnish a player's image, even while raising the perceived bar for other teams hoping to acquire them, and there is no downside. Although I make note of (too many) players saying such things, I'd warn against taking them very seriously.

You can follow me on Twitter @Knaus_RW

Unrestricted Centers

Pau Gasol - Pau has a long list of suitors. He's already scheduled to meet with the Bulls, Warriors and Thunder, he's expressed an interest in the Lakers, Grizzlies and Spurs, and the Suns and Hawks have recently been added to the list. He suffered through a down season in 2013-14, missing 22 games and struggling to find his comfort zone under Mike D'Antoni, which may leave him undervalued in fantasy drafts this fall. UPDATE:  The Thunder have emerged as a strong contender for Gasol, though he has yet to rule out any teams (including the Lakers).

Marcin Gortat - The Wizards will lobby to re-sign Gortat the moment free agency begins and the Polish center has said that he'd "love" to stay in Washington, citing John Wall as a major reason for his success in 2013-14. Fellow big man Nene has also supported Gortat's return to D.C., and the Wizards' full-court press may be causing other teams to think twice about prioritizing Gortat in free agency -- the Mavs were mentioned as a candidate before they acquired Tyson Chandler, and the Heat have been suggested on the off chance that they can clear enough cap space. UPDATE: Gortat has agreed to a fully-guaranteed deal with the Wizards, worth $60 million over five years. That's a market-value deal for Washington, and the fact that they locked him up so quickly speaks volumes about Gortat's comfort playing alongside John Wall and Nene under coach Randy Wittman. For their next feat, the Wizards will attempt to re-sign Trevor Ariza despite a plethora of teams who are also pursuing the veteran SF.

Spencer Hawes - With a steady 30-minute role and only two DNPs last season, Hawes reminded fantasy owners why he's such a unique fantasy force. He piled up third-round value by averaging 13.2 points, 1.6 threes, 8.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game, and his 78.3 percent FT shooting was well above average for a center. The Cavaliers have vowed to make re-signing Hawes their "main priority," but the Warriors and Clippers may have interest and that list will quickly balloon once free agency officially begins. UPDATE: Hawes signed a four-year, $23 million deal with the Clippers.

Andray Blatche - Blatche turned down a minimum-salary player option to enter free agency this summer, and he's already been linked to the center-starved Pelicans. (UPDATE: I wrote Blatche's free agent situation prior to New Orleans acquiring Omer Asik, so presumably they're interest in Blatche has been drastically reduced.) For his career, Blatche has per-36-minute averages of 16.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks, with solid-enough percentages for a big man. If he can find a team willing to play him around 30 minutes per game, he'll be in solid shape as a late-round center.

Chris Kaman - After a frustrating season under coach Mike D'Antoni, which included an infamous mid-game nap on the Lakers' bench, Kaman will undoubtedly seek out the biggest role he can as a free agent. In the right situation he can be a solid source of points, FG percentage, rebounds and blocks, but fantasy owners should hedge their bets on draft day since he hasn't cracked mid-round value since 2009-10 with the Clippers. UPDATE: Kaman signed a two-year, $10 million contract to join the Trail Blazers.

Chris Andersen - The Birdman opted for unrestricted free agency, and despite being 36 years old (on July 7) he'll likely earn a 15-minute role on a contender's bench. It remains to be seen if that's with the Heat or another team. By the way...if you remember hearing about a criminal investigation into Andersen while he was with the Nuggets, but haven't learned what came of it, this article exonerates Andersen as the victim of an elaborate internet scam.

Elton Brand - The 34-year-old intends to continue his career, and he's likely to land a short-term deal for close to the veteran minimum. UDPATE: The Hawks and Knicks have both expressed interest in E.B.

Jermaine O'Neal - J.O. is contemplating retirement. Even if he does return, his chronic leg injuries and limited playing time mean that he's no longer a viable fantasy option.

Greg Stiemsma - Stiemsma was atrocious when the Pelicans experimented with him in the starting lineup, and he struggled to beat out guys like Alexis Ajinca and Melvin Ely for playing time. In his three-year NBA career he's swatted 2.8 shots per 36 minutes, but that information is only useful in the deepest of leagues.

Emeka Okafor - A herniated disc ruined Okafor's 2013-14 season, and there haven't been any updates on his status in months.

Greg Oden - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra praised Oden's work ethic, and the former No. 1 pick plans to play again in 2014-15. His season will be a success if he stays healthy and appears in more than a handful of games.

Cole Aldrich - Aldrich thrived in a few meaningless late-season games for the Knicks, including a huge line of 13 points, 16 rebounds, two steals and five blocks in April. That shouldn't sway fantasy owners to consider him on draft day, however, as he'll be filling a minor bench role for whichever team acquires him. For what it's worth, the NY Post's Marc Berman doesn't expect the Knicks to re-sign Aldrich.

Nazr Mohammed - The Chicago-born veteran will be 37 years old when the season begins, and the biggest question here is whether he'll retire this summer.

A few more UFA centers not mentioned… Ekpe Udoh, Gustavo Ayon, Ryan Hollins, Aaron Gray, Marcus Camby, Andris Biedrins and Andrew Bynum.

Restricted Free Agents

Eric Bledsoe - The Suns may try to short-circuit the RFA process by handing Bledsoe a massive contract offer as soon as free agency begins, rather than waiting for him to present them with another team's offer sheet. Yahoo! Sports reported in early June that Bledsoe may earn a max-salary contract, which is within reason for the 24-year-old who averaged 17.7 points, 1.2 threes, 4.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals last season. He has suffered through two injury-shortened campaigns in his four-year career, but that shouldn't dissuade fantasy owners from snagging him in the early rounds. UPDATE: The Bucks may give Bledsoe a huge offer sheet but he's already in 'preliminary' contract talks with the Suns, who are expected to match any offer.

Greg Monroe - A few reports have suggested that the Pelicans might try to land Monroe via a sign-and-trade, sending Ryan Anderson to the Pistons, but for now that's a speculative scenario. Pistons president and coach Stan Van Gundy has suggested that he might balk at a near-max contract for Monroe, especially if Detroit doesn't find a way to clear ill-fitting Josh Smith from their frontcourt. One thing is certain -- there will be no shortage of suitors for Monroe. UPDATE: ESPN's Marc Stein has cited the Magic, Blazers and Hawks as teams with definite interest in Monroe.

Chandler Parsons - The Rockets strategically declined Parsons' cheap fourth-year option to make him a restricted FA this summer, and they're unlikely to let him leave unless it's part of a larger plan to acquire a star. The former second-round pick had a do-it-all season for Houston, notching 16.6 points, 1.8 triples, 5.5 boards, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game on his way to top-40 fantasy value. UPDATE: The Mavericks are expected to meet with Parsons and pursue him if they miss out on Carmelo and LeBron, but the Rockets will likely match any offer (unless they are the ones who get Melo or LBJ).

Isaiah Thomas - The Kings' reported desire to sign Shaun Livingston as their starting PG suggests that they may decline to match a lucrative offer for IT2, despite his terrific play in 2013-14. With heavy playing time and the trust of coach Mike Malone, Thomas racked up 20.3 points per game on 45.3 percent FGs and 85.0 percent FTs. He added 1.8 threes, 2.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals to become a top-10 fantasy PG, but that lofty value can only be maintained if he finds a secure starting job in 2014-15. UPDATE: Sources tell Rotoworld's Aaron Bruski that the Pistons, Mavs, Heat, Lakers and Suns all have interest in signing Thomas.

Gordon Hayward - The Suns are among the teams eager to give Hayward a massive offer sheet, which may approach the maximum-allowable salary, but reports suggest that the Jazz won't balk at matching. They wouldn't make such a hefty investment without intending to keep him as a franchise centerpiece, so if he stays in Utah he'll have a good chance to increase last year's 16.2 points on 13.4 shot attempts per game. His 41.3 percent shooting was a drag for fantasy owners, but that didn't prevent him from racking up fourth-round value in eight-cat leagues. UPDATE: The Celtics have also contacted Hayward, but again it may be for naught with Utah poised to match any offer. The Cavaliers are also mulling a massive offer sheet.

P.J. Tucker - The Suns want to re-sign Tucker, but as usual it depends on the size of the offer sheet he brings back from another team. Tucker implied that he'll pursue the biggest payday possible, saying, "It's like the best and worst situation. I'm going to be in a better position business-wise, but maybe I have to go to a team that's not so good ... [The Suns] have talked to me and said they want to have me back." His ceiling is late-round fantasy value, so approach him with caution on draft day.

Avery Bradley - Boston's decision to draft Marcus Smart shouldn't impact their desire to retain Bradley, though his solid 2013-14 season (14.9 points, 39.5 percent from downtown) will ensure that they face plenty of competition for the 23-year-old SG. UPDATE: Bradley earned himself a nice contract, re-signing with Boston for $32 million over four years.

Patrick Patterson - The Raptors' qualifying offer was $4.3 million so they're serious about wanting to keep him, but they might balk at a big offer since they already have Amir Johnson, Tyler Hansbrough, Chuck Hayes and Jonas Valanciunas under contract. Pat-Pat has a nice pick-and-pop game and he can extend out to 3-point range, but mediocre defensive stats and limited playing time have conspired to limit his fantasy value in the NBA. UPDATE: Patterson has agreed to a three-year, $18 million deal to stay with the Raptors.

Greivis Vasquez - Vasquez has a $3 million qualifying offer but he'll likely earn a higher annual salary as a free agent. The Raptors may view him as a fallback plan if they lose Kyle Lowry, but if they keep Lowry the arrival of Lou Williams could also make Vasquez expendable. The 27-year-old Venezuelan has been blunt about his desire for a starting PG role, adding another layer of complication to the Raptors' backcourt this summer. Keep in mind that even during his best NBA season, with New Orleans in 2012-13, Vasquez was still only a mid-round value in eight-cat leagues. UPDATE: The Bucks are reportedly interested in giving Vasquez an offer sheet. With Kyle Lowry and Lou Williams already under contract, a big enough deal could force Toronto to let Vasquez leave.

Pero Antic - Antic shot 16.7 percent in the playoffs, taking the shine off an otherwise solid rookie season. If he stays in Atlanta he'll back up Al Horford at center, a role unlikely to yield much fantasy value.

As of Monday evening, we're still awaiting official word on qualifying offers for Shelvin Mack (UPDATE: The Hawks made Mack a qualifying offer, so he’s now a restricted FA), Mike Scott, Kevin Seraphin (UPDATE: The Wizards made Seraphin a restricted FA) and Jordan Crawford (UPDATE: The Warriors didn’t give Crawford a QO, so he’s now unrestricted).

Player Options/Early Termination Options:

Tim Duncan - Duncan picked up his $10.3 million player option to chase yet another championship with the Spurs.

Zach Randolph - The Grizzlies and Randolph agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract extension, which keeps him under contract for a total of three years at $36.5 million. He hasn't cracked sixth-round roto value since 2010-11 on a cumulative basis, despite missing only nine games over the past two seasons.

Rudy Gay - Gay opted-in for the final year of his contract at $19.3 million, and the Kings are expected to negotiate an extension this summer. His decision to stay in Sacramento is perfect for fantasy purposes, as he returned top-40 value over the final three months of the season.

Chauncey Billups - The Pistons will not pick up Billups' team option and he's likely to retire this summer, though he may join an NBA front office or coaching staff as soon as the 2014-15 season. UPDATE: Billups has been working out in Las Vegas and he plans to sign another NBA contract before calling it a career.

Nate Robinson - Nate picked up his $2.1 million player option. He's coming off ACL surgery performed in January and should be ready for opening night, but there's too much risk to recommend the veteran guard for fantasy purposes.

Amare Stoudemire - The Knicks will get Amare back for another season after he declined to exercise his early-termination option. He'll earn a whopping $23.4 million, but even if Carmelo Anthony leaves the Knicks can't lean on him too heavily -- his balky knees limited him to an average of 22.6 minutes in 65 appearances last season.

Andrea Bargnani - Bargnani will stay with the Knicks and earn $11.5 million next season, and he'll try to bounce back from a 2013-14 campaign in which he missed 40 games due to injury.

Andrei Kirilenko - Kirilenko opted in for the final year of his deal with Brooklyn, worth $3.3 million.

Darrell Arthur - Arthur picked up his $3.4 million option to stay in Denver for another season.

Jonas Jerebko - Jerebko picked up his $4.5 million player option and coach Stan Van Gundy even named him as one of seven players at the "core" of the Pistons.

Just for fun

Tracy McGrady - T-Mac's NBA career is over, but he's still entertaining to write about. At the moment he's fulfilling a life-long dream by pitching for the Sugarland Skeeters in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He's compiled a 6.75 ERA in four starts, lasting an average of 1.55 innings per start with a total of zero strikeouts and 10 walks, but on the plus side he's given national exposure to the otherwise obscure Skeeters.

Gilbert Arenas - The artist formerly self-referenced as 'Hibachi' is still hopeful that he can resurrect his NBA career, but the odds of a comeback recall another of his nicknames, Agent Zero. He last played for the Shanghai Sharks (Yao Ming's team) in 2012-13, averaging 20.7 points in 27.3 minutes per game, but remember this is the same league that enabled Stephon Marbury to become an MVP candidate in his mid-30s. Arenas, it should be noted, is still under probation after being arrested last year with more than 100 pounds of fireworks in his SUV.

Phew. Teams are barred from discussing players until free agency officially opens at 12:01am on Tuesday, so we can anticipate a deluge of updates in the near future. Enjoy!

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