Keep your eye out for Triads that will work. I also noticed 2 listings on ebay for M&K speakers. It's just what you are looking for L-R-C at $800 used for 100b set or $850 for 750THX set new.
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The center speaker, as usual, will likely be the most important of the three so I'd try to get the best one possible. For $375 I think the Paradigm Monitor 7 Center 1 could be a very good choice, and you can pair it with the Mini Monitors and still be under $1000. I suppose you might get away with the Atoms and save a couple hundred bucks if you really have to, but I wouldn't.
As for the receiver, at this level I wouldn't sweat it too much -- just make sure you get the features and connectivity he needs (both now and for the future as much as possible). I'd recommend getting a model with room/speaker correction if at all possible. I like Pioneer and Onkyo, although I do see reports of people having issues with Onkyos from time to time.
Hope this helps, and best of luck.
Check this ad out- No relation. Just add an NHT center and a sub and you are good to go well w/in your budget.
No relation to seller, but I will tell you that I have used a full NHT set up like this for years in 2 HTs and they do just fine for music as well as TV, sports, and movies.