Due to a sports hernia, Noah Vonleh is expected to miss the next 6-8 weeks of action, which will probably include the start of the 2014-15 season. Though far from devastating, it's still a pretty significant setback to both the rookie power forward/center and the Hornets as a team, who presumably want to see solid production from their ninth overall pick this season. To deal with his absence, head coach Steve Clifford wants to add another big man to the roster. I can't imagine the Hornets would make a trade right now for a seemingly inconsequential addition, so here's a breakdown of the nine centers listed as current free agents on NBA.com.
Category 1: Unrealistic/Undesirable Options
Andrew Bynum: It's easy to see how one might be inclined to give the former All-Star an opportunity, as he's entering he's still just 27 years old, but he might be out for the entire year, and he's probably worth too much money and/or trouble, if not both. Don't expect to see him in Charlotte any time soon.
Greg Oden: Oden's even younger than Bynum, and he didn't necessarily look that bad when he was able to play for the Miami Heat last season, but the Hornets should stay away from Oden. Given both the charges of domestic violence and his issues with alcohol, he's just too much of a risk for this team. The reward could be big, but sooner or later there will be a point where we'll have to stop saying that about him.
Emeka Okafor: While the former longtime Bobcat would be a good option given his leadership ability and consistency, it's unlikely that he will be healthy until midseason. Currently, the Hornets don't have a use for him, but if there's an injury concern in the frontcourt come 2015, we'll see what happens.
Byron Mullens: Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha no. He signed a deal in China, anyway.
Category 2: Intriguing Names
Nazr Mohammed: Well, let's get all the former Bobcats out of the way all at once. Nazr Mohammed is not young. In fact, you could say he's pretty old for a journeyman center. He's also pretty cheap, likely won't get any other/better offers, and could probably pick up on Clifford's defensive system pretty quickly. The only thing I wonder about is if Mohammed currently adds anything to the team that Bismack Biyombo doesn't, but if the Hornets are looking for just a back-of-the-rotation big man, Mohammed is not a bad option.
Jason Collins: He won't impress many people with his play these days, but he's seven feet tall, has always had good defensive instincts, and by all accounts, is a strong locker room presence. It's enough to give him a look, if you're looking for a frontcourt player.
Kevin Seraphin: Though he's actually not a free agent -- the Wizards signed him to a qualifying offer for the 2014-15 season (and no, I'm not sure why the NBA's official website still lists him as a free agent either) -- this is one scenario in which I could see the Hornets making a trade. He has low market value, so it likely wouldn't take anything of significance to trade for him, and his team has a lot of options at his position(s) who are, to be frank, better. But he's also a potentially undervalued, young player (he turns 25 in December) who has some skills (positional versatility, and he's also a good offensive player around the rim), and seemingly would benefit more than others from a quality coaching staff. If the price is right, and the Hornets are sure they want to add another big man, Seraphin is definitely an option the front office should consider.
Category 3: Uninspiring Options:
Ryan Hollins: I will always have to be reminded that Hollins was once a Bobcat and that's partially because he wasn't particularly good in Charlotte. However, he was traded along with Matt Carroll for DeSagana Diop, so it's important to remember that Hollins certainly could have been far, far worse. What's interesting, though, is that for the past two seasons, Hollins has actually become a quality offensive player. He's hit his shots, and although he doesn't shoot from outside the paint often, there's something to be said for a big man who rarely misses. He's worth paying attention to.
Hilton Armstrong: As much as I love the guy, going back to his UConn days, Hilton Armstrong might be the very definition of an uninspiring player. He's just...not very good. That said, sometimes you just need a body, especially during training camp, and Armstrong is 6'11", doesn't play bad defense, and can rebound okay. If you need a 15th man in camp, and you're lacking for bigs, Armstrong might not be the worst option.
So that's who NBA.com has identified as free agents at the position the Hornets are looking at. There's plenty more players who haven't found a home yet, so feel free to toss some other options into the comments. Who do you think the Hornets should at least consider, as they look for a temporary replacement for Noah Vonleh?