Greg Oden has not played a game in the NBA since Dec. 5, 2009. The overall No. 1 pick in 2007 had his third microfracture surgery in March 2012 on his left knee. In his total NBA career, he has played exactly 82 games. Now, the Cleveland Cavaliers are reportedly set to offer Oden a two-year contract.
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Coming out of Ohio State, Oden was projected to be one of the best centers in the NBA. He could have been one of the best big men of his generation and instead was hindered by a string of injuries that has left him playing only 82 games. Oden was originally drafted by the Portland Blazers, but was released by the team after his third surgery.
Now, Cleveland wants Oden. The team currently ranks 27th in the league in total defense this season. Anderson Varejao is out for the season with a blood clot and is likely to be traded in the offseason. Cleveland is in the hunt for a new big man. The Cavaleries are now prepared to offer Oden a contract following the Feb. 21 trade deadline, assumingly utilizing their cap space.
Oden has been targeting a return to the NBA in 2013-2014. His deal could include a third year option because of this. Oden lives nearby in Columbus and has been to see the team on numerous occasions. He could chose to sign with the team after Feb. 21 and then continue his rehab, with the plan to play next year.
This is not the first time rumors have swirled around Oden getting picked up by a team. The Miami Heat and the Boston Celetics were the first teams to show interest. Despite Oden's past injuries, he still has tremendous upside. At just 25, he possess a skill set rather unique to player his size. He showed signs of why he was the No. 1 pick while in Portland. During his 82-game stint he averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 22 minutes a game. If the Cavs could squeeze that amount of productivity out of him again, they could have a special player on their hands.
There is certainly reason to be skeptical. This would not be the first time the Oden has attempted to come back from injury and failed to do so. Having undergone three microfracture surgeries, the risk of reinjury is certainly higher. Oden is still not at full strength now and yet, the Cavs are willing to take a risk.
Signing Oden is high risk with a possibility of high reward. There is no doubt he is a good player, but he ends up sitting on the trainors table more than he is on the court. A homecoming in Ohio, where he played his best basketball in college, could be what Oden needs to bring his career back on track.