The best free agents on the market: Centers
Even though the NBA has shifted toward a wing-oriented game, having a great power forward is often a precursor to success. Both NBA Finals teams had versatile fours in Draymond Green and Pascal Siakam and that was no coincidence.
The modern power forward can ideally step out and score from the perimeter and at the rim, while also rebounding and offering some inside-outside defense with switch ability. This free-agent class of fours isn’t deep on stars, but features quality depth and several undervalued role players.
Here are the top potential free-agent power forwards on the market, with the negotiating period opening on June 30:
1. Julius Randle
Randle quietly blew up in New Orleans. Despite the drama that swirled around Anthony Davis for half the season, Randle put up a 21/8/3 stat line. He also became a dependable shooter, which opens up his market in today’s game. He’s not a great defender, so pairing him with a rim protector is necessary. But his offensive game fits just about anywhere. With Zion Williamson overlapping positions, Randle is likely on the move this summer.
Fits with: Nets, Knicks, Clippers
2. Kristaps Porzingis (restricted)
Porzingis is coming off a lost year, missing the entire season while rehabbing from a torn ACL in 2018. Despite that, the Dallas Mavericks gave up a considerable package of picks and players to acquire Porzingis. There was buzz he could have returned late in the season, but with the Mavs out of the playoff picture, they took the conservative approach. It’s not exactly Dallas or bust for Porzingis this summer, but considering the Mavericks’ investment in acquiring him, he’s not going anywhere.
Fits with: Mavericks
3. JaMychal Green
Green was seen as a steal by the Memphis Grizzlies when they snagged him from the San Antonio Spurs in 2015. He grew into his own in Memphis, especially by adding range to his jumper. He fit in almost perfectly with the Los Angeles Clippers after they acquired him at the trade deadline because of his lunch-pail work ethic. L.A. would love to keep him, but bigger plans for its cap space could cause Green to be on the move. If so, he’ll become a target for many teams.
Fits with: Clippers, Nets, Knicks, Lakers, Jazz
4. Thaddeus Young
Young has been a good, but not great, player for years. He came into the NBA as a run-and-jump player, but has slowly rounded out his offensive game. He’s still able to get to the rim, but he’s also added a reliable jumper. And his defense has always been good, especially with his ability to guard either forward spot. The Pacers value Young, but have a chance to make noise in free agency. That could free him up to be an undervalued steal for someone else.
Fits with: Pacers, Jazz, Nets, Knicks, Lakers
5. Nikola Mirotic
Mirotic has had quite the odyssey over the last couple of years. He was traded from Chicago to help New Orleans make a playoff push last season, and this year was flipped to Milwaukee to fill the same role. Now, Mirotic is a free agent and can pick his next destination. While his defense doesn’t really allow for him to be a starter, Mirotic’s ability to stretch defenses makes him a fit for any contender. With the Bucks facing a large tax bill, they may not be able to pay the market rate to keep Mirotic.
Fits with: Bucks, Jazz, Nets, Knicks
6. Al-Farouq Aminu
When Aminu was a priority, first-day signing for the Portland Trail Blazers in 2015, many around the league said, “Huh?” Four years later, everyone gets what Neil Olshey’s play was. Aminu became the Blazers’ starting four and played a part in continuing the team’s sustained period of success. Portland will try to retain the versatile forward, but a continuously mounting payroll could come into play. If it does, expect Aminu to have no shortage of offers.
Fits with: Trail Blazers, Jazz, Nets
7. Taj Gibson
Gibson is probably the most old-school power forward on this list. He doesn’t really stretch the floor on offense, and his defense is best in and around the paint. But Gibson stays within himself and does what he does. Because he can defend both the bigger power forwards and centers equally well, Gibson has value to contenders as a backup big man. That alone will get him his next deal.
Fits with: Jazz, Nets, Knicks, Lakers
8. Markieff Morris
It’s been a long, strange trip for Morris. He was hurt and ultimately traded at the deadline as a disappointing Wizards team looked to avoid paying the luxury tax. The Pelicans waived Morris because his acquisition was a straight salary dump. He then caught on with the Thunder, but never had the impact that was hoped for. Now, Morris is looking at getting his career back on track. He’ll probably look at short-term deals with contenders, as he tries to rebuild his value in hopes of another big payday.
Fits with: Lakers, Nets, Knicks
9. Bobby Portis (restricted)
Portis is coming off the best season of his young career. He averaged career highs nearly across the board, but his most impressive improvement came as a shooter. Portis knocked down 39.3 percent of his 3-point shots on 3.8 attempts per game. That’s three straight years of incremental improvement for Portis, who we can now say is a good shooter. His career year came at the right time now that he’s a free agent for the first time. While the Wizards have a hole at power forward, they also have some serious cap and tax concerns. If a team crafts a big, creative offer sheet, it could steal Portis from Washington.
Fits with: Wizards, Nets, Knicks, Jazz
10. Kevon Looney
Looney went from a player for whom the Warriors declined a rookie-scale team option to a critical rotation player on an NBA Finals team. His improvement offensively and toughness to play through fractures in his shoulder/chest during the playoffs has a lot of teams interested. Looney is an easy fit for any team because of his plug-and-play defensive ability and improving offensive game.
Fits with: Warriors, Nets, Lakers, Celtics
Other notable free agents: Ed Davis, Jared Dudley, Jeff Green, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Maxi Kleber (restricted), Kevon Looney, Mike Scott, Anthony Tolliver, Noah Vonleh
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