Analyzing Greg Oden's Best Opportunity for Short-Term and Long-Term Success

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2013

HOUSTON - APRIL 24:  Center Greg Oden #52 of the Portland Trail Blazers during play against the Houston Rockets in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on April 24, 2009 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

For a player who has not played in the NBA in three years, Greg Oden has plenty of options going forward. However, he now has to decide which team will provide the best opportunity to rejuvenate his career.

Marc Stein of ESPN reports that the former No. 1 draft pick has a number of meetings scheduled in the coming days:

Free-agent center Greg Oden will be in Las Vegas this week for face-to-face meetings with officials from the Dallas MavericksSacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans, according to sources with knowledge of Oden's plans.

The report goes on to state that the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs are also strong contenders to sign the center.

Obviously, each of these teams are hoping that Oden can be the player he was before knee injuries derailed his once-promising career. The center was outstanding, when healthy, in his one year at Ohio State and showed plenty of potential in a season on the court with the Portland Trail Blazers.

In 82 games played (60 starts), Oden averaged 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while making 57.7 percent of his shots from the field. He also had an impressive 21 double-doubles in that time.

If he was coming off this type of season and was looking for a new team, he might simply choose a place that offers the most money or a place where he could win a championship. If the latter was the most important aspect to him, the Spurs or Heat would be the top options.

For either of those teams, Oden could play a small reserve role while watching his teammates win a lot of games. Of course, playing time would be hard to come by after the Spurs re-signed Tiago Splitter and the Heat re-signed Chris Andersen.

The fact that both squads also like to utilize smaller lineups would leave even fewer minutes for the young player.

While it might be fun to play for a great team for a year, it would hinder Oden's ability to develop his game. It will also not allow him to showcase his talent as he tries to earn a bigger contract in the future.

The same problem would occur with the Sacramento Kings, who already have one of the top centers in the league in DeMarcus Cousins. The pair certainly would not be able to play alongside each other, and Oden would be left on the bench for much of the season.

On the other hand, the Dallas Mavericks could have the reverse problem. The team lacks a true center, and with Dirk Nowitzki playing very little in the post, it could put a lot of pressure for whoever starts at the 5.

After missing the last few seasons, it is unlikely Oden would be ready to handle that much physical and mental pressure. He needs to go to a place that gives him playing time but also surrounds him with help on the court.

That leaves the New Orleans Pelicans as the perfect fit for the 25-year-old player. 

While the team made great improvements to the backcourt by adding Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday this offseason, it is still relatively weak up front. Even Anthony Davis, who had a solid rookie year, played mostly power forward last season and is still not quite a center.

This will allow Oden to earn playing time right away and possibly move into the starting lineup.

However, Davis is also a great rim-protector and would be able to help out the center down low against bigger lineups.

With good-but-not-great veterans also on the roster like Greg Stiemsma and Jason Smith, the Pelicans can provide rest for Oden without taking away too many minutes if he succeeds early.

The Pelicans may be the perfect destination for Oden as he can reunite with head coach Monty Williams. Williams was an assistant coach for the Trail Blazers from 2005 to 2010 and was known as a favorite among the players.

Finally, this squad would represent the perfect long-term location for the player if things go well. Davis, Evans, Holiday and Eric Gordon are all under 25 years old and would create a formidable lineup with Oden for years to come.

It remains to be seen how interested New Orleans is in the center, but it would be an excellent fit from a basketball perspective if he signed a contract with the squad this offseason.


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