The center position is going to be one of the more hotly-contested positions in the 2024 NBA free agency period. There are many elite big men that are set to hit the market. In addition, a few centers could potentially be trade targets due to their situation. There are quite a few teams that do need an upgrade at the center position. Two of these teams are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Unsurprisingly, both the Lakers and the Grizzlies are keeping a close eye on the center position in the offseason, per Ian Begley. In a report about Mitchell Robinson trade rumors, Begley noted that the two teams, as well as the New Orleans Pelicans, are watching the market.

“The Lakers, Grizzlies, and Pelicans are among the teams closely monitoring the center position this offseason. The Hawks have continued to gauge the market for Clint Capela. Yahoo! Sports earlier reported that the Knicks were gauging the market for Robinson.”

The current center free agency class consists of some pretty solid names. Nic Claxton and Isaiah Hartenstein are the headliners, while Jonas Valanciunas and Andre Drummond are other names to consider. As Begley mentioned, Capela and Robinson are also on the trade block as potential candidates. Considering the Lakers and the Grizzlies' dire needs at center, these options are worth taking a look at.

Both the Lakers and the Grizzlies suffered heartbreak last season, though for different reasons. For LA, a wildly inconsistent season led to the team losing in the first round to the Denver Nuggets in quick fashion. In Memphis, an injury-riddled season became the reason for them missing the playoffs entirely.

Lakers and Grizzlies' center troubles

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) passes the ball as Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) defends during the second half during game one of the 2023 NBA playoffs at FedExForum.
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers and Grizzlies' woes at the center position stem from the fact that their nominal “centers” are either unwilling or are not used to playing the position. Anthony Davis' disdain for playing center is well-documented. LA still desires a traditional big man to complement Davis and allow him to play freely. However, they are pretty strapped for cash, so finding an upgrade will mean looking at the bargain bin.

As for the Grizzlies, Steven Adams' injury and eventual trade left the team with no true center on the court. As a result, Jaren Jackson Jr. has played center for the team. It… hasn't been pretty at times. JJJ still has a bad habit of getting into foul trouble, and playing center restricts him from doing what he does best: roam around and block shots out of nowhere.

Upgrading the center position will be vital for both the Lakers and the Grizzlies to succeed next season. For LA, their center decisions will likely revolve around new head coach JJ Redick's designs for the team. For Memphis, their priority is to find a traditional big man that will allow Jackson Jr. to return to his natural role as the power forward.

Who will either team snag in the offseason? It will certainly be interesting to see how things play out for the Lakers and Grizzlies in free agency.