The age of traditional centers is all but extinct. Nowadays, if you can’t show quickness on your feet to defend away from the basket or shoot 25-footers, you will find yourself on the bench or out of the league altogether. Height is no longer a coveted attribute – skill is.
Dewayne Dedmon came over from San Antonio two seasons ago. For the Spurs, he was a do-it-all man on the defensive side, serving as their backup rim protector. Offensively, he was somewhat inept, only capable of rim running and crashing the glass. That all changed once he got to Atlanta.
Under the tutelage of both Mike Budenholzer and Lloyd Pierce, Dedmon has expanded his game to include the three-point shot. He shot 35.5% on 2.3 attempts per game in 2018 and bettered that to 38.2% on 3.4 attempts last season. Dedmon isn’t just chucking them up; he’s making them at the same rate as Kevin Huerter. Centers like this have become more common but remain highly sought after. Dedmon is set to hit free agency, and he’s made a compelling case for the Hawks to retain him.
Per Shams Charania of the Athletic, Atlanta is interested in bringing back their starting center on a possible one-year balloon contract or a similar two-year, $14 million deal that they signed him to back in 2017.
The Hawks are staring another rebuilding year in the face whether they like it or not. They will have the opportunity to compete for a playoff spot, but 2019 will not be the year their championship window opens. That’s down the road; which is why signing Dedmon to a fat one-year deal makes sense.
The tandem of Alex Len and Dewayne Dedmon was pleasantly productive all of last season. Both provided rebounding, rim protection, and consistent three-point shooting. Alex Len’s contract is set to expire at the end of next season. Bringing back Dedmon to pair with him for one more run allows Atlanta to take a more in-depth look if either of these guys could be a piece for when their championship window does open. Signing Dedmon to an inflated one-year deal also will get the Hawks to the salary floor and will not block their cap space next offseason – when the team will look to be major players in free agency.
The two-year contract I am a little warier of. Not that I would mind having Dedmon locked in for two more years, but I’m not sure how his value could be similar to what it was when the Hawks signed him in 2017. Unless NBA teams have not watched Hawks games for the last two seasons, someone is going to offer him at least $20 million. I’m not sure if I am going to want the Hawks to meet that.
After one more year of draft picks and developing young talent, the youngsters should be ready to contend. Next offseason, Kent Bazemore and Miles Plumlee come off the books. Atlanta will have the opportunity to spend wildly and build around their youthful cornerstones. I don’t want any contracts jeopardizing that. So ideally, I would like the Hawks to bring Dedmon back on a hefty one-year deal worth anywhere up to $15 million. If it is a two-year deal; it will have to be substantially less than what I think he’s worth.