April 14, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Sacramento Kings center Cole Aldrich (45) dunks the ball against the Houston Rockets in the fourth quarter at the Toyota Center. The Rockets defeated the Kings 121-100. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Case for Cole Aldrich

Between a meeting with Greg Oden and reported rumblings surrounding Timofey Mozgov, it may have been pretty easy to miss the news that the Kings had renounced the rights to Cole Aldrich – a center they already had dibs on and who was, in all cases, a safer bet.

In the grand scheme of things, it won’t be a huge difference where the Kings get their back up center, not when they have a logjam in the paint. DeMarcus Cousins is the sure starter at center, but anyone of Jason Thompson, Patrick Patterson and Carl Landry could start at power forward. Chuck Hayes will also see minutes at either spot, and while Patterson and Landry couldn’t play center, Thompson has played the spot before and could continue to do so. If the Kings add another center, their playing time would be anything but guaranteed.

Still, there is a big case for Aldrich over either Oden or Mozgov.

First for Oden – while the allure of the former 2007 No. 1 overall selection could leave fans drooling, there remains the sad fact that Oden is the most injury prone player in the league. In six years, he’s managed just 82 games total. Getting Oden wouldn’t be a bad thing by any means—if healthy, his potential is enormous—but that if is a humongous if with two busted knees. Even when you’re talking about a third string center, the fact that Aldrich has never had a serious injury before tips the needle into Aldrich’s favor.

As for Mozgov, Aldrich gives the Kings something Mozgov doesn’t – a shotblocker. Mosgov is a more proven scorer, but when it comes to the Kings roster, Aldrich fits better. None of the Kings bigs on the roster are shotblockers – per 36 minutes last year, Aldrich would have averaged 2.1 blocks a game along with 11.1 rebounds. Mosgov wasn’t a ton behind him at 1.8 blocks, but give the edge to Aldrich. He’s a better rebounder and a better blocker.

Most of all, he’s probably cheaper to re-sign at this point than Oden or Mosgov. Oden is getting attention all over the league and would command the Kings exception deal—which would be less then some of his other suitors (Dallas, New Orleans, San Antonio and Miami among them) could afford. As for Mosgov, the Nuggets have the rights to match offers on Mosgov according to ESPN and the Kings would have to offer enough to scare Denver off. Cole could likely be retained for less than either Oden or Mosgov would cost.

Aldrich averaged 3.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and .9 blocks a game in 11.7 minutes per game with Sacramento last year. He managed back-to-back double doubles (12 points, 12 rebounds against Houston and 12 points, 13 rebounds against Oklahoma City) in two of the Kings last games. It’s easy to overlook the big man with bigger names floating around, but he’d be an excellent 6th big man.

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