This offseason is going to be very good one for frontcourt free agents. Some of the best big men in the league in Al Jefferson and David West are going to be available for teams to go after. Unfortunately, the Bobcats may not be able to reap the benefits of players like this. As a rebuilding team, it would be risky to sign a high money, one-dimensional big man at this stage in the process, not to mention the unfortunately smaller odds of attracting bigger name free agents. However this does not mean there aren't solid frontcourt players out there for the Bobcats to take a look at and possibly sign on a short term deal to help the team get better right now or provide a veteran presence.
UFA = Unrestricted Free Agent - A player who has full control on their free agency. They can take whatever contract they want on any team they want.
RFA = Restricted Free Agent - A player who is still tethered to the team he's on. He can select any contract he's offered but the current team he's on is allowed match the offer regardless of even if it takes them above the soft salary cap. A secondary option for the player is to take a qualifying offer which will let them finish out the final year of their contract and become an Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of the season.
Dwight Howard - UFA
Now I don't know about this guy. He was on the Lakers last year and they weren't all that good. I'd take a pass on him. (Note: sarcasm - Dwight's still a very, very good player)
Nikola Pekovic - RFA
Pekovic will undoubtedly get a lot of buzz going into the first days of free agency as one of the few promising big men. Honestly, Pekovic is a great fit for the Timberwolves with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, but there are doubts that Minnesota will match offer sheets for him. Yet they did just get a new general manager in Flip Saunders, so maybe they'll get the go-ahead from their brass to re-sign Pekovic. And it's no secret why they or other teams should be chasing Pekovic. He's an efficient finisher, showing ranking highly in the pick and roll, on cuts, on offensive rebound scoring chances and transition plays on MySynergySports.com. Pekovic also has a great penchant for finishing through contact, drawing fouls and a lack of fear to mix things up in the paint. His offensive rebound percentage rates highly, hauling in 13 percent of offensive rebound opportunities. He's had his share of injuries in the past, which should also factor into the decision, however.
Al Jefferson - UFA
Although he's possibly outside of the Bobcats' spending wishes at this point, Jefferson's worth taking a look at simply because his post offense is so very good and the Bobcats have no one who can remotely do what he can. That said, he's still not a supremely efficient player on offense, scoring 0.97 points per possession. On the other hand, he doesn't turn the ball over much and he's a solid rebounder. Make no bones about it, he'd be a big upgrade over anything the Bobcats have offensively, however. But the Bobcats seem to be committed to changing their culture to being much more defensive-minded, shown by the hiring of Steve Clifford. Are they willing to bring in a offensive dynamo and defensive sieve in Jefferson who hasn't shown the agility or ability to defend a pick and roll with a big paycheck to boot?
Paul Millsap - UFA
The other Utah big man that bolstered their post play was Millsap, a much more versatile player on both sides of the ball, though only marginally less efficient on offense than Jefferson. He also boasts a solid post game, nice hands, good range on his jump shot. He's hardly a defensive force, but he's fairly active and moves well.
Andrew Bynum - UFA
After Philadelphia took the risk of trading for the talented 7-footer, they ended up the butt of many jokes when all was said and done and Andrew Bynum didn't play a single game in a 76ers jersey. Now he heads into free agency and any GM who takes the risk of signing Bynum has some major confidence or possibly a gambling problem. Bynum's shown he can be fantastic on both ends of the court but injuries have always been the one major concern with him. For the right price, the risk might be worth it, but it's difficult to foresee what kind of contracts Bynum could see.
Ivan Johnson - RFA
Johnson is possibly the most terrifying player in the league. When they talk about tough guys in the NBA, his name undoubtedly comes up every time. Johnson is more than just a tough guy, though. As a very solid rim defender, he can out-muscle a lot of players in the league and give other big men problems. On offense, Johnson doesn't touch the ball very often, but when he does he sports a 52 percent effective field goal percentage. Johnson also averages 9 rebounds per 36 minutes which is very good for an off the bench big man. Given Johnson's passion and defensive effort, he could be a nice bench option for defensive-minded Steve Clifford. However, the Bobcats could really use a more versatile forward.
Samuel Dalembert - UFA
It's no secret that Samuel Dalembert's best days are behind him. In his past, he was known as a rim protector and a shot blocker. Now he's just a veteran on his final trips though the NBA. Dalembert could likely be signed on a very small contract and add another veteran presence in the locker room and he's still serviceable enough to fill up those minutes on the court to fill out a rotation. However, do the Bobcats really need another Brendan Haywood?
Tiago Splitter - RFA
Splitter is an interesting case. Before the playoffs, he was expected to receive a decent payday this offseason. Then during the playoffs it looked like Splitter was going to be massively overpaid. However Splitter is currently having an dreadful NBA Finals. I'm not sure how much that's going to affect front office perceptions of him but it could possibly lower the price on him making it possible for the Cats to go in and snag him. Splitter is a very mobile and solid defender. He grabs 9 rebounds per 36 minutes and is very good at boxing out, allowing for Duncan to grab the rebounds he doesn't grab. Splitter's main problem is how limited he is on offense. He can't create at all. Do not let his high true shooting percentage fool you. However, he doesn't go far outside his limitations, taking only 7 shots a game. An overwhelming majority of his offense is a result of his teammates - about 75 percent of his field goals were results of an assist, per basketball-reference. And out of that remaining 25 percent of his field goals, about 10 percent of that comes from offensive rebounding scoring opportunities, per MySynergySports.com. He's an efficient scorer, but only because he's not really required to be anything other than a decent finisher on pick and rolls every now and again, which certainly isn't a bad thing. He would be a nice defensive pickup for the Bobcats if they could pull it off but I expect Splitter to get massively overpaid by a team that panics and makes a "splash signing" to appease their fans. That team will not be the Bobcats.
Chris Kaman - UFA
Chris Kaman is another veteran player but unlike Dalembert he's still semi-usable. The Dallas Mavericks utilized his offense consistently often with a usage percentage of 25 percent. He was fairly efficient with a true shooting percentage of 53 percent, but his points per possession places him in the middle of the pack. He's also a solid enough rebounder, though, with an 8.1 offensive rebounding percentage that places him in the top 30 players last season to play at least 50 games and grab at least 8 percent of available offensive rebounds. Further, Kaman struggles to keep a good handle on the ball, turning it over an estimated 13.6 percent of the time. Defensively, he's more shaky due to injury history and the subsequent loss of mobility. Kaman is probably my favorite reasonable pickup for the Bobcats, considering their issues on offense -- if they can get him at a decent price.
Timofey Mozgov - RFA
The Bobcats reportedly tried to trade for Mozgov before the trade deadline, but Denver apparently wasn't having it. But now, Denver's a bit of a mess with their much-heralded GM Masai Ujiri leaving for Toronto, George Karl's firing and Andre Iguodala opting out of the remainder of his contract to enter free agency. Whether Denver wants to hold strong to Mozgov and match offers in restricted free agency remains to be seen. Like Splitter, Mozgov is very limited on offense, even more so than the San Antonio big man. He's never seen consistent playing time, and he's never played at least 50 games in a season. His defensive abilities are much more promising, as is his rebounding. Still, the Bobcats don't need another one-dimensional player, so Mozgov probably isn't a good look for them.
Josh McRoberts - UFA
Re-signing McRoberts is probably the default move for this offseason. He was a big help to the Bobcats frontcourt, giving them a big man who could handle the ball pretty well with decent range and a high basketball IQ. McRoberts probably won't be an expensive option and could very well return to the team, though you never know if a contender will try to sign him to a mid-level exception or if he wants to come back after another Bobcats coaching change.
J.J. Hickson - UFA
The Bobcats have expressed interest in Hickson for a while now. They attempted to sign him last offseason and tried to trade for him before the trade deadline. Though he's a great rebounder and efficient scorer (especially in the pick and roll), his defensive liabilities will garner as much attention as his offensive abilities. He did play out of position at center, as opposed to his more natural center, but his defense was so horrid that the Trail Blazers are likely not going look at re-signing him. He has no presence, doesn't cover much space, is a poor shot-blocker. Still, there is definitely a position for him on some team as the backup power forward that you bring in for energy and high-volume finishing and rebounding. But after his double-double average for the season, you have to wonder if the price tag will match the role he should have.
Cole Aldrich - UFA
Drafted in 2010, Aldrich has spent the past three years well under the radar, not that he's supremely underrated or anything. He's young, has good size, nice hands and can play in the paint as well as in the pick and roll. However, he clearly hasn't shown this at a great level, only briefly seeing the light of day in Oklahoma City for two years before being traded to Houston, where he also struggled to receive playing time. He received more in Sacramento, but still only got a little under 12 minutes per game there. Aldrich probably won't be expensive but could be worth a look for a cheap young backup center to take a flyer on.
Boris Diaw - Player option