While Dwight Howard is clearly the best center in the NBA, there are two more attractive offers on the table ahead of Atlanta. The Los Angeles Lakers have the ability to pay Howard more than any other team, and the Houston Rockets are a big man away from becoming a serious contender.
The Hawks have $40 million in cap room, but with just Horford, Lou Williams and John Jenkins under contract, there are a lot of question marks on this team. The team has two first-round picks and two second-round picks in the upcoming draft, and the outcome of the draft will dictate where the team intends to go.
Assuming Howard doesn’t go to Atlanta, the Hawks will still need to find a center, and even though Andrew Bynum is the next best player available at the position, there are concerns about the health of his knees. Bynum missed all of last season with the Philadelphia 76ers.
If the Hawks want to go with the safest center and not give out a maximum contract, the 28-year-old Al Jefferson could be the guy they choose to pursue.
Jefferson has been known to be inconsistent with his defensive play, but he is considered to be one of the best offensive big men in the NBA. He’s an old school, back-to-the-basket type of center that likes to use a variety of different post moves.
With a combination of Horford and Jefferson in their front court, the Hawks could then resign restricted free agent Jeff Teague and bring in another second-tier star like Monta Ellis or Andre Iguodala. Jefferson averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds last year with the Utah Jazz.