Former No. 1 pick Greg Oden has become a hot commodity for a number of franchises around the league after making it clear that he wants to return to the NBA by next season. Fortunately for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a recent report paints them as the front-runners to sign the seven-foot center.
According to Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico, the organization is prepared to extend Oden a two-year contract with a team option for a possible third season.
Oden would like to sign a contract after the Feb. 21 trade deadline and continue his rehab and conditioning while on an NBA roster, but he isn’t expected to actually contribute until the 2013-14 campaign tips off.
Amico’s sources indicate that the former Ohio State product is leaning toward the Cavs, as they will likely have the cap room to offer more than the veteran’s minimum after the deadline.
A number of other teams are reportedly interested in Oden’s services as well (via Amico), including the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs.
Regardless of all the intrigue, it seems that the competition to sign Oden is truly between the Cavs and the Miami Heat.
Amico notes that while Oden would have a chance to nab a ring in South Beach, there is a lot of pressure that comes with signing on to play with the "Big Three" of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Cleveland would offer more minutes, tempered expectations and a better chance for Oden to develop into the dominant big man the Portland Trail Blazers thought he would become when they selected him No. 1 overall in the 2007 draft.
Unfortunately, constant knee troubles plagued him during his five years in the league, only allowing him to appear in 82 games during that span.
If Oden is truly “100 percent" rehabilitated from his three knee surgeries—as his agent Mike Conley Sr. is claiming (via Amico)—then it will certainly be interesting to see how he pans out upon his return to the NBA.
Whether that comeback happens with the Cavs, the Heat or another organization remains to be seen.