With rumors swirling that Greg Oden is hoping to sign with a team this season and rehab in preparation for next year, there has plenty of interest in the former top pick.
While plenty of teams have kicked the tires on the promising yet injury-riddled center, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat are the supposed front-runners in landing Oden, according to ESPN.com.
Regardless of how many teams are discussing Oden, the Cavs should make a serious push to land the center despite the fact that he has not played a game since the 2009-10 season and has managed just 82 games since being drafted in 2007.
While Oden's knee is certainly still an issue, this calculated risk would be in Cleveland's best interest.
Statistically, Oden fared pretty well with the Portland Trailblazers, averaging 9.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 1.4 BPG over the course of his short-lived career. He showed signs of being a solid defender with the ability to rebound well and score at a decent clip, Considering the fact that Oden is just 25 years old, he is certainly worth signing despite the fact that injuries have marred his past.
While teams like Miami are pursuing Oden, Cleveland would be a better fit for the coveted center.
In an environment like Cleveland, Oden would have less pressure to impact the team immediately. While Miami typically features small lineups and struggles to rebound consistently, it appears they would rely on Oden to make an impact in this area. This kind of pressure could lead to more minutes than the injury-plagued Oden can handle.
Which team should sign Greg Oden?
In Cleveland, Oden would be in a better situation. The immediate pressure to succeed would not be nearly as prevalent with the Cavs, as they are likely lottery-bound once again. Playing his freshman year at Ohio State, Oden already has ties to the area. Cleveland could also offer more money, as they are below the tax line, whereas Miami would be forced to offer the veteran's minimum.
Playing with the Cavaliers, Oden could learn from the injured Anderson Varejao once both return to form. Already known as a solid defender and rebounder, Oden could attempt to learn from and emulate Varejao's game as he works to attain full strength.
If Oden bounces back after such a devastating beginning to his NBA career, he could be a part of a solid young nucleus including Varejao, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristian Thompson, Alonzo Gee and Tyler Zeller. Combined with another top pick in this year's draft, the Cavaliers are slowly building a competitive young team, especially with the recent additions of Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby.
Adding a promising big man to the equation would certainly help in this regard.
While there is definitely a risk in Oden, for a team like Cleveland, who has a solid young core intact but is still not quite ready to contend, this risk could be worthwhile. If it works out, they could be a playoff team sooner rather than later. Worst case scenario, Oden injures his knee again and retires, leaving Cleveland exactly where they are now.
Although Oden is largely regarded as a bust, especially considering the fact that he was picked over Kevin Durant, he is still just 25, meaning there is still time for him to rebuild his reputation. Dominant centers are at a premium in the NBA, and the Cavaliers have the opportunity to snag a potential one in Oden.