By all accounts, Greg Oden has had an unfortunate and unavoidably disappointing NBA career. Taken No. 1 overall by the Portland Trailblazers (before Kevin Durant mind you), his career has been plagued by horrible knees and nagging injuries.
A rare true center prospect out of Ohio State, Oden has yet to play a full NBA season, with his most being 61 games played during the 2008-2009 NBA season. Most recently, he was released by the Trailblazers who officially decided to move on from the ailing NBA center.
After undergoing microfracture knee surgeries (three surgeries in five years) on both knees in the offseason, it appears he may one day be ready to return to the hardwood.
But an NBA return is questionable, at least for now, but also not totally improbable. Here are a few of the options that Oden should weigh while thinking about his future.
It could be safe to say that Greg Oden has rushed back a few times too many in his NBA career and that may be part of the reason he's never fully been a healthy player. But in the end, that excuse is just a cop out.
The guy has just been blessed with horrible knees. It's unfortunate and something that he can't really avoid.
The best option for Greg Oden, at this point, would be to take a little time away from the NBA court to rest, spend his money and just come up with a good gameplan for his future.
There's no need for him to rush back to the court; not until he is entirely sure that his knees will hold up. If he rushes it this time around, it will spell the complete and utter end of his NBA career. Teams are wary right now, but none will touch him if his knees give out again.
Oden seems to recognize this, having been quoted from an interview by David Hughes of the Tribune-Starr (Terre Haute, Ind) saying:
I would love to play [in 2012-13], but I'm not going to rush anything," he said [...] "I need to take a year off. What I told Mike was 'Look, I want to get back with a team. I want to play. If there's a chance that later on in the [NBA] year, if I feel good or if I'm healthy enough to play, I would love to play this year.'
If and when he does decide to hit the NBA again, Oden would best be suited to shack up a team that boasts a great training staff. One of the many rumors as to why Oden struggled so much is that Portland gave him poor medical attention during his time there.
While that is merely speculation, it does call into question where Oden would be if he had started playing with a team with infamously good training staffs.
A few teams that come to mind are the Phoenix Suns (they withstood Nash's aging for years) and the San Antonio Spurs (look how old they are).
The Suns are known for their legendary training staff and their ability to prolong the careers of many injury-prone players and they would be a great destination for an injury-prone center like Oden. Plus, they do have need for a backup center behind Marcin Gortat (Jermaine O'Neal and Channing Frye aren't the greatest options).
Teams that Oden should avoid include the Portland Trailblazers (for obvious reasons) and the Golden State Warriors (are they ever healthy?).
Hitching on with a contender would also be a great option for Mr. Oden. Many could be in need for a player of his stature: the OKC Thunder, the Los Angeles Lakers and most notably the Miami Heat.
Oden, as well, has been linked to wanting to sign with the Heat in the past. His agent, Mike Conley Sr. (father of Mike Conley Jr.) has talked about Oden's wishes in the past, especially concerning the Miami Heat.
The Heat hasn't called but "Greg has talked about Miami," Conley said. "He has interest. He's not retiring." Oden, the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, has played just 82 career games for Portland (which released him in March) and averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.
In the end, if Oden does return, would the Heat be his best option? Imagine a lineup with a healthy Oden down in South Beach. A team long criticized for not having size or a true center would finally have exactly what they needed. They may dominate now, but boy would they dominate even more with a healthy Greg Oden.
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