Yesterday, the Cleveland Cavaliers sent Tyler Zeller to the Boston Celtics in a trade designed to dump Jarrett Jack's salary on the Brooklyn Nets. Zeller became the latest center to depart the Cavs this offseason. Last week, Spencer Hawes agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers.
At this moment, the Cavs only have two true centers on their roster -- Anderson Varejao and Brendan Haywood -- and neither of them can be counted on to give the team big minutes. Varejao has constant health problems, and considering how flexible his contract is, there's no guarantee that he will still be on the roster by the start of next season. Haywood, who was picked up in a trade on draft night mainly so that his contract can be used in a trade later on, has his own health issues. He didn't play in a single game last season.
Tristan Thompson has played some center before. Dwight Powell, whose draft right the Cavs acquired in the trade that brought over Haywood, could potentially play some minutes there as well if he makes the team. Still, if the season were to start today, the Cavs would not have a reliable option to start at the five. No matter what LeBron James decides to do, the center position will need to be addressed.
Back in April, Justin took a look at some of the guys who would be available. Unfortunately, his main targets are no longer options: Marcin Gortat (staying with Wizards), Pau Gasol (deciding between several teams, but there's no reporting saying that Cleveland is one of them), and Hawes (Clippers).
The rest of the free agent market is pretty barren. Emeka Okafor is out there, but like Haywood, he didn't play at all last season. Greg Monroe is a restricted free agent, but he's reportedly in talks to stay with the Detroit Pistons.
The best chance to add a quality center may be through a trade. The Indiana Pacers are reportedly shopping Roy Hibbert. He's a big name and a big man who could immediately give the Cavs the kind of interior defensive presence they've been lacking for years. However, he was miserable during last season's playoffs, he has a huge contract, and the asking price would probably be steep. The Cavs will probably focus on more realistic options.
The team will also get a look at undrafted rookie Alex Kirk, who is on their summer league roster. If all else fails, he could have a pretty good chance to make the team. Trevor wrote a little bit about him (and the rest of the summer league roster) yesterday.
Right now, things are looking a little bit bleak with respect to this position. Hopefully David Griffin can do something to change that.