Greg Oden is one of the most intriguing free agents on the open market, but the big man may not be available much longer.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Jeff Goodman, the former No. 1 overall draft pick is hosting workouts in Indianapolis—his hometown—with three of his suitors sending representatives into town to watch.
The Miami Heat, the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings will all reportedly have staff in attendance as the much-maligned center attempts to show that he is healthy and ready to make a return to the NBA.
If Oden is truly close to 100 percent and looking “unbelievable”—as former Ohio State standout Deshaun Thomas described Oden’s state at the draft combine back in May, via Bob Finnan of the News-Herald—then there is no doubt that he will increase his value via these workouts.
The seven-foot, 285-pound big is still only 25 years old and oozing the same upside that he showed coming off a national championship appearance with the Buckeyes just over six years ago.
When not plagued by the knee problems that limited him to 82 total games during his five-year career—the last of which came on Dec. 5, 2009—Oden can be one of the league’s premier pivots.
He holds career averages of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks but was only scraping the tip of the iceberg in terms of talent.
If Oden can stay on the floor for the majority of a season—as he did during his rookie campaign in 2008-09, when he appeared in 61 games and started 39—he has a chance to make a real impact.
Whether that’s in limited minutes for a championship contender like the Heat or playing a more significant role out of the spotlight on a rebuilding squad such as Sacramento, the center’s career could be far from over.
Knee injuries—especially the chronic ones that Oden suffers from—can be absolutely devastating to an NBA player, but willpower, determination, sound medical advice and a great supporting cast can overcome them.
Oden has all the tools he needs for a comeback at his disposal. It now remains to be seen if he has the heart or if he is just looking for a payday.