6 NBA Teams That Should Make a Run at Greg Oden
Oden's agent, Mike Conley, said the following via phone a phone interview with FOX Sports Florida:
"(Oden) called me, and he was kind of excited. I think he’s motivated... He wants to play. He had said he wanted to take this season off, but he’s backed off from that... He’s open to playing this season. I think he will play this season."
Oden, a former No. 1 draft pick, has not played since December 2009. Out of 394 possible games in his NBA career, he’s missed 312. The center has undergone five surgeries on both his knees since being drafted. Two surgeries occurred last February, and he was waived by Portland last March, making him a free agent.
Oden feels like he has something left to offer. If he can stay healthy, he could still be an asset to a team. Here are six teams that should consider going after the big man.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Cavs are hoping they'll be set at center with first-round draft pick Tyler Zeller, but it would be to their advantage to bring in a veteran backup—especially one at a discounted price.
Zeller will most likely fill Cleveland's immediate needs at center, but it doesn't have much for a second- or third-string option. Oden is the type of big man the Cavaliers need to add to the roster, and if his knees hold out, he would be the perfect candidate to share minutes with the rookie.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
The Brooklyn Nets have a quality starting center in Brook Lopez, but the big man really has no one of size to back him up. Andray Blatche is currently slated as a second-string center, but Blatche is a power forward, not a post man.
Enter Greg Oden. Taking a risk on Oden is worth it for Brooklyn, as he wouldn't be needed for substantial minutes, anyway. If he can stay semi healthy and block shots the way he did entering the league, Oden would absolutely be worth it to the Nets.
San Antonio Spurs
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Here is an excerpt from projectspurs.com:
Size and defense were problems for the San Antonio Spurs before the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Dwight Howard. That trade made it even more important for the Spurs to improve their interior defense, whether that be from guys like Tiago Splitter getting better or from the team picking someone up through trade or free agency. We've heard the name Andray Blatche and there are still guys like Darko Milicic out there.
The Spurs need a large post presence—obviously, if they would even consider looking at Milicic. Several teams have opted to give the big man a chance over the past several seasons, and Milicic has proved to be a disappointment every time. Although going after the oft-injured Oden would certainly be a risk, it couldn't be any more risky than some of their other options. All things considered, if he doesn't work out then the team could part ways with him while keeping its core and chemistry in tact.
However, the potential of Oden coming back healthy is too intriguing to ignore. The Spurs' current situation (Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter) is questionable at best, and they'll have to make a move soon.
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Back in March, Oden commented that he'd be interested in playing for Indiana.
"I know Greg would love to play in Indy," Conley said. "I know that's something he'd definitely be interested in. But in my conversations with Greg, we're not even thinking or talking about basketball right now."
Granted, that was awhile ago. Oden was still focused on rehab, and things were even more uncertain for the big man than they are now.
In all reality, though, Oden could be a positive addition to the Pacers' roster. He wouldn't cost Indiana much, and he would serve as a mentor for the younger, inexperienced players currently slated at the center position. Roy Hibbert will remain the Pacers' starter, but Oden would be a good-sized backup.
Indiana also has Ian Mahinmi and Miles Plumlee, but Mahinmi is a below-par player. Plumlee is entering his rookie year out of Duke, and it will likely be a year or two before he develops into a reliable No. 5.
For such a discounted price, Indiana should consider taking a chance on Oden.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
When Orlando traded away All-Star Dwight Howard in a four-team deal, it was left wanting at the center position.
Coming into the NBA, Oden was marked as an exceptional shot blocker with a solid low-post game. While he may not deliver the volume of minutes Howard did, Oden's size is similar to the superstar, and he would be a good addition to current Magic players Gustavo Ayon and Nikola Vucevic.
Ayon and Vucevic hold potential, but even with all his injuries, Oden boasts stronger numbers than either. During his 82-game career, Oden had career averages of 9.4 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 57.7 percent.
Orlando is in rebuilding mode 100 percent; now is the time to take a risk on a guy like Oden.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
As successful as Miami is, it still has a need at the center position.
The Heat drafted Justin Hamilton, but he's not enough to rely on. Their rather small lineup worked well for them in last year's playoffs, but it's not realistic to expect Chris Bosh to play center through the regular season. They really still need to bring in someone with true size to dominate beneath the basket. At 7'0" and 285 lbs, Oden could be that guy.
He won't be the type of player that can come in and play a whole game, but Oden could deliver a solid quarter or two of basketball, and it would be enough to stabilize Miami's lineup. When he's playing at the top of his game, Oden is as dominant as they come.
The biggest reason for the Heat to go after Oden? Rumor has it he showed interest in playing for the reigning champions. If he's motivated to return, he could be a cheap pickup for Miami.