The Houston Rockets have gotten yeoman's work from Chuck Hayes at the center position for years, with an injured Yao Ming routinely giving way to the undersized Hayes. That will not the case in 2011-12, as Hayes has signed a free agent with the Sacramento Kings.
Hayes averaged 7.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game in just over 28 minutes per game in 2011, and his departure leaves the Rockets with a huge hole inside: Jordan Hill and Hasheem Thabeet are the only other centers left on Houston's roster.
Fortunately, neither is likely to be the Rockets' opening day starter at center. Houston is expected to pursue free agent big man Nene in free agency, and was on the verge of receiving Pau Gasol from the Los Angeles Lakers before the Chris Paul mega-deal was nixed on Thursday.
For more on NBA free agency, see SB Nation's 2011 NBA free agency StoryStream and the 2011 NBA free agency hub; for more on the Rockets, make sure to check out The Dream Shake.