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Looking for a Cheap Center

Sean May is not a center, and the Kings were thought to be bent on adding another center, therefore it stands to reason that the Kings may be looking to add a center in free agency. Even assuming Jon Brockman earns a roster spot (a virtual lock), the Kings could reasonably add one more guaranteed contract to bring the roster to 14. You wouldn't be surprised if the team stayed at 13, but again the team has been rumored to be concerned with center depth.

Barring trades -- and thus barring Kyrylo Fesenko, who to be quite honest has been a spectre of one Salt Lake City newspaper, which has only tied Fes to Sac by virtue of Fes's relationship with Jason Levien -- who can be had?

I'm inventing some parameters for this investigation.

* Age. Fabricio Oberto rumors aside, you assume the team would rather add a younger player than an older player.

* Reputation. No bad seeds needed, thankyouverymuch.

* Price. I urge you to have faith in my hunch the Kings will not be spending big for a back-up center.

All that said, here are the guys I'd place atop my heap.

Rod Benson

I remain amazed Rod Benson hasn't gotten an NBA shake. Maybe Bryan Gates will lobby for the D-League star. And I'm not vouching for him because he was born in my (quasi-)hometown, or because he's blog-friendly, or because he's Skeets-friendly, or because he's hilarious, or because he works out/lives in Sacramento. All those things help, sure. But he's a good player!

Benson is a killer rebounder on both ends (D-League marks of 13.6% on offense and 22.5% on defense, both of which are top 10 in D-League history). He blocks shots decently (3.5%). He know his offensive role (career usage rate of 18%, with an offensive rating -- that measures efficiently, or using your possessions well -- of 115). He's an efficient scorer, which is to say he knows his limitations and strengths -- he had a True Shooting percentage above 60% last season and shot 57% from the field last season.

He's a good player! He could help the Kings off the bench!

Also, there's something to be said for entertainment value, given the Kings situation. Fans love active players, both on the court and in the community. Benson is very active on the court (see that offensive rebounding percentage again) and I guarantee he'll add a ton of attention from the national sports blogs if he makes the Kings. I wish that were irrelevant, but it's not. (Hey, we argued for Ricky Rubio on somewhat the same basis, right?)

Sign Rod Benson!

Robert Swift

Swift has become a posterboy for the perils of the high school leap, and a huge victory for those who support the age limit. So, as an opponent of the age limit, I'd selfishly love to see Swift reformed. But more than that, he has the tools to be a solid contributor, if his brain and body ever cooperate.

Swift has been a strong defensive rebounder in his NBA career. In his most prolific season (a whopping 987 minutes as a 20-year-old sophomore in 2005-06), he tallied a defensive rebound rate of 21.1%. Last season, in 343 minutes, he improved to 23.2%. It's a small sample size, but when taken along with the earlier mark and the knowledge that the defensive rebounding of big men improves with age, it's a solid bet Swift could be a fine, fine rebounder given minutes.

Swift has also blocked a fair amount of shots in his time, with a career block rate of 4.4%. That age 20 season with his most minutes played, Swift 4.4% of opponent shots, compared with 3.1% for a 20-year-old Spencer Hawes last season. So at least in terms of rebounding and shotblocking, Swift figures to be a better defender than Hawes, which would seem to be a necessity for a back-up center.

The problem with Swift has always been that there is more than one problem. Swift is atrocious on offense -- both invisible and bad, if that can be believed. He has never shot frequently, tossing up only 8.8 FGAs per 36 minutes at age 20 (compared with 12.7 for Hawes last season). He hasn't been a complete turnover machine, even when considering his small role on offense. But that's more of a footnote than a plus: at this point, playing Swift would mean playing 4-vs-5 when on offense. Tyreke Evans and Kevin Martin are good, but they may not be that good, especially given the offensive problems at the two forward positions.

Further, Swift's knees have constantly been in terrible shape, and he has had extreme confidence issues ever since entering the league. He's a project who doesn't project to be a role player. But as with the 7-foot youngster, there's a reason he's available.

Mouhamed Sene

Sene has been a disaster in the NBA, Swift Part II. But he has racked up some handsome numbers in D-League play: strong defensive rebounding, stronger offensive rebounding, incredible shotblocking, and efficient scoring at the rim. A longer, less-likely-to-have-a-TV-news-camera-crew-staking-out-his-house version of Justin "3Wil" Williams.

One not negligible issue with Sene is that he is under contract with the Knicks for 2009-10. However, I'm not aware that it is fully guaranteed, and it is a minimum contract nonetheless, so Sene may in fact become available as a free agent sometime this summer.

Johan Petro

I'm addicted to failed Sonics draft picks! Petro has actually been the best of the three, but I'm not sure he can be had for the minimum salary. (Hence his placement.) He's also the type who values his offense more than he should, taking too many shots despite godawful efficiency marks. Petro isn't a shotblocker like Swift or Sene, and not nearly the offensive rebounder Benson is. A strong defensive rebounder, though. If you signed Petro, you'd need to immediately put him in a box and tell him to stop shooting the basketball.

Ryan Hollins

Brian McCormick brought up Hollins late Sunday. The Pacers were interested, but instead signed Atlanta's Solomon Jones (who definitely would have made this list). Hollins is most infamous for talking smack during last year's playoffs, something about Kobe. I don't know. I tend not to listen to smack talk from bit players. My specific issue with Hollins is that he is a terrible defensive rebounder, like truly awful. He's good on the offensive glass, but so, so bad on the defensive end. He blocks shots and knows his role on offense, but the Kings cannot afford another bad defensive rebounder. Sorry.

Paul Davis

Let's go with "ditto" for ex-Clipper Paul Davis, although Davis isn't even good at finishing around the rim. Boo.


In conclusion, sign Rod Benson!