Off-Season Targets: Centers

Published: June 30, 2012

With Emeka gone and Kaman soon to follow, the Hornets will look to target somebody in the middle this summer

It’s that time of year again where we take a look at potential off-season targets. Grayson put up a big board of potential free agents, and now we go a little more in-depth. First up is the center position. As of today, the Hornets do not have a true center on the roster, though Jason Smith has been looking to add weight in order to play the position and Anthony Davis has the length to play center in spurts. After figuring in cap holds for Gordon and the rookies, the Hornets are about 17 million dollars under the cap. One way or the other, the Hornets are going to have to add another big. Perhaps they fill the position permanently with somebody they acquire this year, or they could just get a short term fix and wait for other options to become available.  In either case, there are some quality big men available.

Free Agents

1. JaVale McGee, Denver Nuggets 25.2 Mpg, 11.3 Ppg, 7.8 Rpg, 2.2 Bpg, 56% Fg

Dell went after McGee at the trade deadline and I expect him to do it again if the price is right. MeGee’s per 48 minutes stats are off the charts (22 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks) and he has the ability to be the perfect fit for this Hornets team. McGee was an elite pick and roll defender last season, giving up just .76 points per posession in those situations, which was top 20 in the entire league.He was even better in isolation situations when he had to switch and was matched up against a guard- giving up less than .7 ppp, ranking 12th in the league.

Having McGee and Davis out there at the same time would not only clog up the lane, but it would allow the Hornets to have an infinite amount of options on the pick and roll. They could hedge, show hard, or even switch everything. That is what gives McGee the edge over Roy Hibbert, at least on the defensive end in this new era of the NBA where the Thunder and Heat rule the roost. Miami exposed Hibbert’s lack of lateral quickness and when Indiana’s season was on the line, they actually pulled Hibbert in those final four minutes of game six to give themselves more speed.

Offensively, most would be surprised that Hibbert and McGee are dead even when it comes to points per possession and FG% in post-up situations. McGee, as one would expect has elite numbers off of cuts and rolls to the basket while Hibbert is the better mid-range shooter. McGee is also an awful free throw shooter, something Hibbert does quite well for a big.

The tiebreaker, however, likely comes down to the fact that Indiana will match whatever Hibbert is offered, while there is reason to believe that the right price can get keep Denver for matching on McGee. Anything over ten million per year will put Denver into a position where they could become a luxury tax team after they pay Ty Lawson next year. A contract in the neighborhood of 4 years and 45-50 million would make it hard for Denver to match, and might be worth it for the Hornets when you consider that Anthony Davis will be severely underpaid over those same four years. While McGee might not be worth 12 million per year, you could easily argue that the combo of McGee and Davis are worth 18 million per year, especially when you consider that McGee is just entering his prime years and showed considerable growth after he was traded to a real team last year.

2. Omer Asik, Chicago Bulls, 3.1 Ppg, 5.3 Rpg, 1 Bpg, 51% Fg

Those stats obviously won’t excite you, but if you look at his numbers per 48 minutes you  are talking about 10 points, 18.3 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks. Unfortunately you are also looking at 6 fouls a game as well, so Asik is a guy better served giving you 25 minutes a night. What Asik does give you is a defensive presence that can not be underestimated. The Bulls, already a very good defensive team, gave 10 points less per 100 possessions when Asik was on the court. That’s huge.

When it comes specifically to his fit with the Hornets, you gotta love his ability to defend the post. Anthony Davis will be an excellent weak side and off the ball defender immediately, but he will get pushed around down low from time to time, until he puts on some weight. Asik can defend the post and he also can play the pick and roll. The question with Asik is how much is too much to play a 25 minute per game player who likely won’t be on the court at the end of games. Any reasonable figure will likely be matched by Chicago, so you might have to overpay him. 4 years and 32 million would probably be what it takes to pry him away.

3. Ian Mahinmi, Dallas Mavericks 5.8 Ppg, 4.7 Rpg, .5 Bpg, 55% Fg

Mahinmi was actually on this same list two years ago as a sleeper to watch out for, and he has worked his back way here to the big boys list. Mahinmi is still only 25 years old and would be an ideal guy to hold down the fort until the Hornets can get a big skilled enough to move Ian to the bench. Mahinmi was top ten in the league in defending the pick and roll, allowing just 0.7 ppp. He also was more than adequate on offense in the post and as the roll man in the pick and roll. If the Hornets can’t land a big target, getting Mahinmi to share the position with Jason Smith for a year is not a bad alternative.


Spencer Hawes, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez

Nice to think about, but they can’t be pulled away from their current teams.

Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby

Two guys who could be short term options, but they will likely look to play for contenders and they don’t fit the “young veteran” criteria Dell said he is seeking out in this class.

Trade Targets

Won’t waste anybody’s time with this. The Hornets don’t have any assets that can get a legit center, and taking on a salary dump like Andris Biendris.

Amnesty Candidates

The Hornets can actually get the biggest bargain by putting in a bid on a guy who will get amnestied this summer. Teams can amnesty a player between July 11th and July 17th. Highest bid wins the players services for the remaining length of his current contract.

Brendan Haywood, Dallas Mavericks

Haywood is not a bad player, he is just vastly overpaid (owed nearly 38 million over next 4 years). If Mavs amnesty him, might the Hornets put in a small bid? If you get him, great. If not, no harm. How about an 8 million dollar bid? You pay him 2 million dollars a year for the next 4 years to be a rotation player- that’s a steal.

Looking Ahead

Obviously Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard are free agents. Don’t hold your breath. But the draft offers some possibilities if the Hornets get another high pick. Cody Zeller and Steven Adams are both legit seven footers who figure to be top ten picks in the draft, and there are actually some interesting middle level free agent big men who can fit with Davis. Nickola Pekovic is just entering his prime and is a tough, nasty guy that would look great next to Davis. Al Jefferson will also be available and could provide the low post presence that Monty covets.

Next Off-Season Targets: Forwards


  1. Reggie

    June 30, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    How about Brook Lopez he is a free agent center

    • peedee

      June 30, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Read Reggie

      • Reggie

        June 30, 2012 at 2:39 pm

        my bad

      • Neal

        July 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

        Yes but according to this he is an unrestricted free agent:

        The Nets already have a lot of money tied up, so I believe he could be pryed away with an enticing offer from another team such as the Hornets.

    • Josh

      June 30, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      He does not rebound well at all.

  2. nikkoewan

    June 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Part of me wants McGee, part of me doesn’t. So whatever Dell decides, I’m fine with. With us drafting Rivers with the objective that he plays along side Gordon, it seems right to just give McGee a contract. Davis | McGee gives me the creeps.

    • Matt O

      July 5, 2012 at 7:35 pm

      I would love to see Davis and McGee man the paint.
      I think when we sign and trade Gordon throwing money at McGee would be the ideal scenario. The chance to sign Matt Barnes could also be a good idea for the Hornets.
      Jack – Rivers – Barnes – Davis -McGee
      Vasquez – Henry – Aminu – Smith – Ayon

  3. nikkoewan

    June 30, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Hopefully, Suns don’t immediately offer a contract to Gordon. This way, we maintain some semblance of cap space to offer at McGee. That said, if we were able to sign McGee, chances of Landry coming back goes all the way to zero (which I hate)

  4. Ian H

    June 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Aminu, A Davis, and McGee for a combined $23 million for at least 2 years or so doesn’t sound too bad to me. Exceptional length, athleticism, and defensive prowess. If that is your frontline you need Rivers and Gordon to fire away and hopefully these guys can clean the glass.

  5. NOLA Hustle

    June 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    i have a feeling we go with mahinmi, tho he is raw and is another guy who requires intensive teaching, he is monty type of player.

    i wouldnt mind seeing aaron gray as the stopgap til we try again next year. after all what we lack is beef and he seems to have an ample supply of that

  6. Josh

    June 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    If we get McGee, we’ll make the playoffs.

  7. Chuck

    June 30, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Hypothetically, if we get McGee for 4 yr/50 million and Gordon for 4 yr/55 million, about how much cap space are we looking at going into next summer? Enough to sign a marquee free agent point guard? Yes, I just drooled a little imagining that lineup and will keep dreaming about it until it doesn’t happen

    • Michael McNamara

      June 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      Well, it depends if the Hornets pick up the options on Vasquez, Aminu, and Henry. Personally, I dont think Henry is here in 2013-14, but AMinu and Vasquez are cheap enough. If they have these guys going into next year:

      Vasquez, Rivers, Gordon at guard for a total of 17 million
      Miller, Aminu, Davis, Ayon at forward for total of 11 million
      McGee and Smith at Center for total of 15 million

      That will be 43 million minus about 1.5 million for cap holds, meaning they will be about 14 million under the cap. Plus they will have MLE and some other tools. Could just take on Iggy or Granger’s contract if those teams want to dump or trade them for Aminu and our first. Plenty of options

      • Ian H

        June 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm

        I think I like the sound of that much better. Success or fail Austin Rivers will be the starting PG of the Hornets next year so the SF position needs to be the focus for next year. Granger or Iggy would be an excellent fit unless we completely bombed next year and get a top 3 pick and the Shabazz kid is available.

      • 504ever

        June 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm


        Could you explain your math?

        What is Gordon’s cap hold? I thought it was his 2012 QO, $5M.

        In the article you have us $17M under the cap right now before signing Gordon and McGee. If we sign Gordon and McGee to monster contracts and only lose Henry in 2013-14, how are we $14M under the cap?

        (Also, we need to add in $1.5M for the Thomases and Dysons of the world.)

      • Michael McNamara

        June 30, 2012 at 5:20 pm


        You gotta keep up with your Hornets247 reading! We talked about Gordon’s cap hold here:

        It is 250% of his salary from last year. His cap number is the 5 million ONLY WHEN (or if) he signs that QO

        And if you look above I posted who would be under contract. Remember, Lewis’s 13 mil will come off the books next year.

        I may be occassionally wrong in my predictions, but my math is ALWAYS right. Take a lot of pride in that.

        Seriously, keep the salary cap questions coming, we will do a CBA FAQ part 2 soon

      • Jason Calmes

        June 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

        I stand by the math in the FAQ… more than you may know…

      • nicks65

        June 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm

        Alright I got a salary cap/free agent question for next summer. There has been a lot of talk about the hornets throwing a max deal at a big free agent next summer since we will have the cap room and strong core to attract a stud.

        If we sign a free agent for around an average of 10 mil per year for the next 4 years, what is the most we can expect to a free agent next summer? How much can it hurt our chances landing a top tier free agent?

  8. jjmartin

    June 30, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    It is going to be very hard to get McGee from Denver. They want and they have al little more flexibility in their cap than people think. They could be a tax paying team in ’13, but I have read reports that they will do anything to not let that happen.

  9. Josh

    June 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I would actually like JaVale McGee as our center of the future. I’m not a fan of Asik unless he comes cheap. I really like Mahinmi.

  10. Mikey

    June 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Aside from re-signing Eric Gordon, the two biggest positions of need are clearly center and point guard. The Hornets would be wise to get young, relatively talented guys that can grow in Williams’ system. A JaVale McGee would be ideal, but ultimately it will cost too much money. Chicago is looking to shed salary so they can re-sign Omer Asik, so that is an unlikely scenario. I’m not exactly sure how this will play out tomorrow, but Monty has said multiple times, since the draft, that this team needs to add size.

    Who I’d like to see in Creole Blue: Omer Asik, JaVale McGee, Ian Mahinmi
    Who I think the Bees can realistically acquire: Ian Mahinmi, Kyrylo Fesenko, Aaron Gray

  11. NOS 3-RD GEN

    June 30, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I see the Hornets paying Javale McGee 5yrs/40 mil a year like Andre Jordan and Marcus Thornton, but if they choose R.Hibbert they’re looking to spend 55 mil/4yrs. Omer asik would be perfect for Monty’s system because of the main reason Monty would …….. he’s defense.On the bulls they wouldn’t give him the right type of minutes that we would give him as well! Last thing to say if we do by miracle or good fortune we get McGee, I really think PG wise, we should try our best to acquire D.J.Augustin for sure, if not find a Distributing PG w/ enough scoring/defensive ability to help out with the hornets: Rajon Rondo,Goran Dragic, or even down the line during the trade deadline.
    So bottom line for this year is focus on getting a PG/C of the future. We already have our SG/PF of the future, and grab our SF of the Futrue next year, along w/ the right type of back-ups the Hornets within 3 yrs like “SKIP” said will be a Championship caliber team!!!!

    • SP

      June 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      You’re not getting McGee at that price, his agent will throw your offer sheet in the trash. I can’t remember the last time someone got a bargain in the RFA market.

  12. Ben

    June 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Is there any way we can sign McGee and eg and still throw a Max at CP3

    • Michael McNamara

      June 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm

      Yes- if we didn’t pick up the options next year for Vasquez and Aminu we could start him off at 18.7 million next year, which is where his max deal starts off at. Or they could trade those guys for picks and no salary back, etc.

      Gordon, Rivers, Darius Miller, Davis, Ayon, Smitty, and McGee could all be under contract and the Hornets will have max money to try and lure Paul. Then they can use the MLE to get a SF

  13. SP

    June 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Looking at the free agent market for next season, while it is better, it’s still not great.

    I wouldn’t mind overpaying for McGee (I’m sure someone will). If the price tag is too high maybe Denver doesn’t match the offer.

    In 2013 our options aren’t as open as everyone seems to think.

    Paul is really the only unrestricted PG that will be a game changer.

    Howard, Bynum and Pekovic are the three unrestricted centers, but if we’re going to pick up any of them, we’ll probably overpay anyway.

    Monty wants length, McGee has length…

  14. Babyboi5

    June 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I would add another name to consider: Greg Oden.

    I think he would be a cheap center who is probably looking for a shot at coming back. His time in Portland was awful, but it wasn’t his fault. Injuries was the reason he was let go. He would give the Hornets size, shot blocking ability, and rebounding. Just what the Hornets need.

  15. CP3nBrees

    June 30, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Does anyone have any idea that if McGee has receive his QO yet?

    • James Grayson

      June 30, 2012 at 10:56 pm

      There are rumors that he has:

      But don’t trust that sites legitimacy.

  16. Bombay

    July 1, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Pull the trigger on Mcgee…We need a center..Let AD23 focus at PF..

  17. rjktan

    July 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I was originally opposed to McGee but he seemed to actually show some basketball IQ after his trade to Denver and with a good coach he could be a great center next to AD23.

    As long as we pay him less than the Clippers threw at Griffin…. (19.5 mil a year from my calcs… he is so not worth that much, all the monkey does it dunk) I would be ok with that.

    I think we need to be careful though on making sure we don’t throw max contracts at tier 2 players too lightly… Look at the last few years and tell me how many of the teams that did aren’t regretting it now… Joe Johnson, Rudy Gay, Nene (traded) just to name a few. Clippers will be next as I see them throwing a max at Griffin as a big mistake given they are already overpaying Jordan (who imo is worse than McGee was at WAS). CP3 isn’t sticking around after next season IMO and probably ends up on the LAKERS lol

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