According to John Reid of The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Pelicans have not extended a contract to Oden. The reporter did mention, however, that the team is very much interested in the former Portland Trail Blazer.
Oden hasn't played in an NBA game since the 2009-2010 season and his career has been famously riddled with injuries. Given the several years Oden has had off to rehab his knees, the former first-round pick has to be as close to 100 percent as he can be.
Given his years away from the game and his injuries, New Orleans can sign Oden for cheap and hope he pays off. For the Pelicans, signing Oden is as low a risk as buying a $1 lottery ticket. It's not much of an investment and has the chance of paying off.
Oden could become a solid backup to center Jason Smith who averaged eight points and close to four rebounds for New Orleans last year. Greg Stiemsma and Jeff Withey are the only other centers on the Pelicans' current roster.
Albeit in just two seasons, Oden averaged eight and 11 points per game respectively, per Basketball-Reference.com. He never averaged less than seven rebounds per game over that time span.
The drawbacks to signing the Ohio State product are obvious. He has already had five knee surgeries despite being just 25 years old. Oden admittedly sat out last season to continue focusing on rehabbing his knees.
Oden could easily flop during his return to the NBA with New Orleans. If he does, the team isn't losing a whole lot. His contract would likely be close to the league minimum and cutting him wouldn't hurt the Pelicans. Worst case scenario, Stiemsma backs up Smith like currently planned.
The more beneficial outcome for New Orleans would be if Oden comes back and lives up to at least a little of the potential he showed in college. During his one year with the Buckeyes, Oden scored an average of 15 points per game with nine rebounds.
Ultimately, signing Oden is a low-risk option for the Pelicans. If he can be somewhat as talented as people expected out of college, Oden is a solid addition to Jrue Holliday, Anthony Davis and company. Even if Oden disappoints yet another NBA team, it won't cost New Orleans nearly as much as it did Portland.