Greg Oden: Breaking Down Potential Landing Spots for Former No. 1 Pick
The former Portland Trail Blazers No. 1 overall pick—taken one spot ahead of Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant—is reportedly interested in returning to the league during the 2013-14 season.
Oden's career is one filled with both promise and disappointment, as he could never stay on the court long enough to make a far-reaching impact.
According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein, Oden is plotting a way to prove that Portland was not wrong in making him the No. 1 overall selection all those years ago:
Sources told ESPN.com that multiple teams already have expressed interest in signing Oden before the end of this season to a multi-year deal that would allow him to continue his rehab until he can get back on the court in training camp in the fall.
There's no doubt the man has talent, as evidenced by his near double-double average in 21 games of the 2009-10 season—right before another knee injury forced him out of the league.
If he's healthy, motivated and in the right system, there's little doubt that Oden could be the kind of impact signing to put a team over the top, or even to help a franchise without a true star begin to take steps toward being relevant again.
As ESPN's Michael Wallace put it on Twitter Thursday, there aren't many teams that will avoid doing due diligence about Oden's interest in signing. Even LeBron James is starting his pitch a little bit early:
LeBron said "what team wouldn't" be interested in Greg Oden if he's anywhere near able to play again. "Even Portland."
— Michael Wallace (@WallaceNBA_ESPN) January 10, 2013
Here's a look at the best potential landing spots for the beleaguered center.
As soon as the news broke about Oden, the Heat were immediately linked with signing him to one of their two open roster spots. Here's that news, per the original ESPN report:
The Miami Heat are at the front of the line in pursuing Oden, two sources said, and have been keeping tabs as he recovers while also taking classes at Ohio State.
Aside from the fact that almost every player available in the NBA and other leagues are usually linked to Miami, this is actually a good fit for both sides. Since coming on the scene as a frontrunner in 2010, Miami has lacked a true center that can both rebound and contribute at both ends.
The smaller lineup has been kind to the Heat, but you never know what kind of matchup problems will arise in the postseason and as the year wears on. It would be good to have a weapon like Oden next season—and it even might persuade the Heat to return to a traditional lineup in certain situations.
Don't think Eddy Curry—it will just disappoint you. Oden showed promise during his first few seasons, just couldn't stay on the court. Yes, Curry did too, but he wasn't motivated and let his talent slip away by the time the Heat got a hold of him.
It seems like Oden will have to turn down plenty of pitches that include winning championships and little pressure to perform like an All-Star right away. The situation, money and expectations would all be right in Miami—that's why the Heat are the frontrunners right now.
Aside from the obvious connection to Mike Conley Jr., Greg Oden also has another connection to one of the NBA's best teams this season.
His agent, Mike Conley Sr., is also the current NBA player's father, and mentored both during their time at Ohio State before becoming Oden's representation at the next level. Conley and Oden are close, and bringing him to Memphis would help ease the transition back to the NBA level.
Additionally, the Grizzlies have been active in trade discussions for both Rudy Gay and even Zach Randolph over the past few months. If either should go, finding some offensive help would be a premium, and a healthy Oden could certainly do that off the bench in Memphis.
Miami can offer winning and LeBron, but Memphis has a more down-home feel to it that might be hard to pass up. Memphis has a case at being a championship contender too, so don't count out the Grizzlies to go ahead and sign the center and let him continue rehabbing for next season.
The Tyson Chandler contract situation is one that still haunts the Mavericks. Now, Oden isn't Chandler, but he also has more potential than Chris Kaman or Elton Brand and might give Dirk Nowitzki the kind of defensive presence he needs to be more effective at both ends.
Reports linked Dallas to Oden back in the summer, before he decided against coming back for the 2012-13 season.
Where will Greg Oden sign?
In Dallas, he'd be part of a bigger rebuilding effort. Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo, both young guys around his age with similar title aspirations, are solid building blocks around Nowitzki as the Mavericks try to stay viable for the twilight of the Big German's career.
We don't know the psychiatric state of Oden—but he might feel like he let down the Blazers so much that he needs to prove he was worthy of that No. 1 selection to this day. To put it kindly, he might try to challenge himself in a bad situation without much help around him.
Dallas fits that bill right now, in the midst of its worst season since Nowitzki was a second-year pro.
There's going to be a load of other teams that come calling (Golden State, Los Angeles Clippers/Lakers and Boston Celtics might also have some real interest) so Oden will likely take his time and pick the right fit for both his career and his standing as a professional.
Let's hope the basketball gods shine on him during this comeback attempt.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team. Check him out on Twitter.
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