NBA free agency is a few weeks away (or if a lockout occurs, a few centuries away), but already teams are beginning to retool for the 2011-12 season. And a huge decision awaits the Sacramento Kings--they might have to spend some precious cap space to keep one of their defensive cogs from leaving town.
It'd be a bit surprising to think that big teams would want Kings center Samuel Dalembert (a solid defensive president with a ways to go on the offensive end), but the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat have already started making overtures of the sort.
Boston is now without Shaquille O'Neal and Kendrick Perkins, leaving the Celtics with only the aging Kevin Garnett, the chronically unhealthy Jermaine O'Neal, and the perennial backup Nenad Kristic (Glen Davis is a free agent). Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston points out how productive a shot blocker Dalembert has been, and his presence in the paint could turn back the LeBron James's and Dwyane Wade's of the world.
And of course, Miami definitely needed that paint defender to grab rebounds and stuff the paint when J.J. Barea and Jason Terry danced into the paint at will and Dirk Nowitzki finished at the rim. The Miami Herald reports that Dalembert is a key figure of interest, and the feeling might be mutual due to his home in Boca Raton and its proximity to Haiti. Chris Bosh does not have the frame to muscle his way for rebounds, Joel Anthony was totally overwhelmed by Tyson Chandler, and Udonis Haslem (regardless of what a key cog he might be) is a role player who can't go toe-to-toe with the solid rebounders in the NBA. Dalembert can.
Both teams lacked critical interior presence and rebounding in their playoff eliminations, and Dalembert could be the critical piece to help fill a role similar to Tyson Chandler for the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. The only problem is Sammy is nowhere near as good offensively, and his offense is of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" type. Pursuing Dalembert could help either of these teams get that next ring, but they'd better not expect him to be their finisher down low.
But in the end it might come down to money. The Kings can offer him the most, the Heat the least. Would he take a compromise in Boston?
Would Dalembert help the Celtics or the Heat more to win a championship? Where do you think he'll end up signing? Let us know in the comments!
For more on the Celtics, head to Celtics Blog. Check out Peninsula is Mightier if you're a Heat fan, and Sactown Royalty for Kings fans.