3 Free Agent Centers the Jazz Should Consider Signing This Offseason

The Utah Jazz could use some reinforcements in their frontcourt for next season.
Dec 21, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) is defended by Detroit Pistons center James Wiseman (13) in the second half at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler (24) is defended by Detroit Pistons center James Wiseman (13) in the second half at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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The Utah Jazz may have their starting center of the future on board in Walker Kessler, but this team can largely benefit from adding a name or two into their big man rotation for the coming season.

After the Jazz opted to trade Kelly Olynyk to the Toronto Raptors during this past season's trade deadline, it's left this roster a bit thin at their backup big. Kessler can hold the fort down when he's on the floor, especially defensively, but Utah will likely need to look into the free agent market or the draft this summer in hopes of rounding out their rotation ahead of their 2024-25 campaign.

This summer's free agency isn't loaded with superstar talent by any means, but there still remains several candidates that could be both realistic and worthwhile additions on this Jazz roster for the coming season.

With that, here's three free agent centers the Jazz could look at signing onto the roster this offseason:


James Wiseman, Detroit Pistons

Apr 11, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Detroit Pistons center James Wiseman (13) grabs the rebound in the second half against the Chicago Bulls at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons center James Wiseman (13) grabs the rebound in the second half against the Chicago Bulls at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Wiseman's name may not generate as much excitement as it would have four summers ago, but his fit with the Jazz would surely be an interesting one.

The former second-overall pick has yet to find his footing in the NBA, spending his first four years with up-and-down campaigns with the Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons. Across his 147 career games, Wiseman has averaged 9.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks on 56.0/26.7/68.1 splits, and may be gunning to be on his third team this offseason.

If his departure from the Motor City is inevitable, the Jazz should at least look Wiseman's way. Seeing a reclamation project take place with the 23-year-old could be too ambitious to picture at this point in his career, but at the bare minimum, he can provide a solid role in 10-15 minutes tonight as a backup big to Kessler.

Wiseman possesses some valuable and elite physical traits that the Jazz don't quite have in their center depth and has the chance to be acquired at a low cost. Most, if not all the league may have sold their stock on the former Memphis big man, but it makes for a perfect time for Danny Ainge and Co. to capitalize.


Mo Bamba, Philadelphia 76ers

Jan 6, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Mo Bamba (7) shoots the ball against the Utah Jazz during the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 6, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Mo Bamba (7) shoots the ball against the Utah Jazz during the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

While he didn't show out with a super significant role last season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Mo Bamba checks all of the boxes when looking for a serviceable backup big for the Jazz.

At 7-foot with a 7-foot-10 wingspan, Bamba has that extreme length to matchup defensively with several names at his position, and also has improved into a solid three-point shooter to expand his versatility offensively.

In 13 minutes a night for Philadelphia, Bamba averaged 1.1 blocks with an almost 40% clip from three (39.1%), making him an effective threat on both ends of the floor. As he enters unrestricted free agency this summer, the Jazz could throw a low-risk investment his way to fit the six-year veteran in seamlessly behind Kessler as a two-way backup big.

Sure, Bamba might not ever reach the lofty expectations that a top-six pick would possess, but his presence on the floor can still be impactful-- especially for a Utah roster that struggled mightly to have any defensive identity last season.


Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans

Jan 23, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) kisses his fingers after making a basket against the Utah Jazz during the second half at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 23, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) kisses his fingers after making a basket against the Utah Jazz during the second half at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports / Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports

Don't count out Jonas Valanciunas in being a candidate to watch for Utah this summer.

The New Orleans Pelicans big man stands a bit on the older side compared to the previous two entries on this list, yet he's among the more talented names to hit the open market. Valanciunas is a more offensively-focused big who comes off his 11th-straight season scoring double figures and would bring a nice boost of talent into the frontcourt wherever he lands.

Utah has their future five lined up with Kessler, their defensive anchor, but the New Orleans veteran can enter the fold to round out the Jazz big-man rotation, adding more size and scoring down their rotation. Valanciunas has also shown an expanded ability to stretch the floor in recent years, shooting 34.1% since arriving in the Big Easy.

It's more likely to see Utah invest the big bucks at another position this summer, but in the event the Jazz were open to spending big for another body down low, Valanciunas could be the man for the job.


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Jared Koch

JARED KOCH

Jared Koch is the Associate Editor of The Frozen Rope — SI.com's team website covering the Utah Jazz. He's covered the NBA and NFL for the past two years, also being the Managing Editor of Inside The Kings — SI.com's team website covering the Sacramento Kings.