Two longtime starting centers in the NBA have not played a single minute to start the 2023-24 NBA season.
One of those is Jarrett Allen, who has been rehabbing an ankle injury and has missed the first three games of the season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have stumbled to a 1-2 record, but that’s just as much a reflection of Darius Garland missing two games and Donovan Mitchell missing another; the Cavs don’t have the offensive horses to replace their All-Star guards.
Evan Mobley, on the other hand, has been a force starting at center in Allen’s place. He put up a historic statline against the Indiana Pacers, and otherwise has proven himself capable of surviving inside for an entire game. He’s at least done enough for the Cavaliers to ask the question: are they ready to consider Jarrett Allen trades?
Another team has been without their starting center to start the season: the Memphis Grizzlies. Also missing their backup 5 in Brandon Clarke and their All-Star point guard in Ja Morant, they have flopped to an 0-3 start that includes a loss to the tanking Washington Wizards.
The difference for the Grizzlies is that Steven Adams isn’t coming back this season after undergoing season-ending knee surgery. It’s likely untenable for the Grizzlies to try and survive the entire season with Xavier Tillman Sr. manning the fort at center, and Jaren Jackson Jr. is still way too slap-happy when he plays at center (Jackson leads the league in personal fouls).
Adams’ injury, announced just prior to the start of the season, could lead the Grizzlies to get desperate to upgrade their center position. The strong play of Evan Mobley at center could lead the Cavaliers to become comfortable fielding trade offers. Could the two teams make a deal?