For the second time in as many seasons, former Pitt star Aaron Gray is entering NBA free agency. Last year, Gray signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Raptors in the strike-shortened season. Gray could now again be on the move as he's a free agent heading into this summer.
Big men are always coveted and Gray will certainly find a home for next year. Not only that, but he'll probably have his pick of locations. He's not a star or even a starting center in the NBA, but he is a young, serviceable backup that will draw some interest.
At first glance, though, it seems there's a chance he might not be heading back to Toronto.
The Raptors have star Andrea Bargnani and their 2011 first-round draft pick, Jonas Valanciunas, is reportedly coming to the NBA if he can negotiate a release from his contract overseas. He was the fifth player taken in the draft and the Raptors will want to get him on the court. Bargnani could also play at forward, but the Raptors are also heavy in the frontcourt.
So if not Toronto, where might he end up?Predictably, it's way too early to tell. With the NBA Draft still to come, teams needing a center may look for younger more attractive options there first.
ESPNFlorida, however, says the Orlando Magic might show some interest - especially since Dwight Howard could be leaving town and Gray has played well against the team in the past.
Aaron Gray, Toronto Raptors – Gray is a player who Magic fans know for strangely playing well against them, especially in his time with the Hornets. Gray’s a good big to have off of the bench and could fill a nice role as Howard’s (or anyone’s) backup. This season, Gray averaged 3.9 points and 5.7 rebounds in just 16.6 minutes per game.
As noted, Gray had a strong season in limited time. His 48-minute projections come out to about 12 points and 17 rebounds a game. And at only 27, the argument could be made that Gray has a few years of his prime still to come. He averaged career-highs in minutes and rebounds per game this year and should have at least a few options this summer.