It has been more than two years since Greg Oden last played in the NBA, but he never retired.
And when the former No. 1 pick makes himself available, people stand up and take notice — scrambled eggs for knees or not.
Especially when that player is Oden, a 7-footer who once dominated the college game in his lone season at Ohio State.
Oden showed some serious flashes in the NBA, too. Portland selected him with the top draft pick in 2007, and in the rare moments of good health, he made an instant impact defensively. Also, in his final game with the Trail Blazers (Dec. 1, 2009), Oden snared 20 rebounds.
But, as you probably know, Oden has undergone three microfracture knee surgeries. He played in just a total of 82 games with Portland — or the equivalent of one season.
He’s now back at Ohio State, taking classes and vowing to return to the NBA. His agent, Mike Conley Sr., has promised that Oden is now 100 percent. Conley has even predicted Oden will become an All-Star.
Both Cleveland and Charlotte are said to be prepared to make Oden an offer following the Feb. 21 trading deadline. Boston also remains interested, although it’s believed Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge won’t get into any sort of bidding war.
The Cavaliers, however, are under the cap and can afford to take a low-risk-high-reward chance on a player like Oden. Their proposal reportedly will be for two years (the rest of this season and next), with a team option for a third.
No word on what the Bobcats might be thinking.
Defending-champion Miami was another team that supposedly had a passing interest in Oden, but that’s all it was. The Heat just signed center Chris Andersen for the rest of the season, effectively removing themselves from the Oden conversation.
Oden’s camp is looking to sign this year, but for rehab purposes only. If all goes according to plan, he’ll be ready for training camp to open the 2013-14 season.
Teams such as the Cavs and Bobcats would only make an offer after the trading deadline because adding a player prior to it might hinder their opportunities to make other potential moves.
Sources said over the weekend Oden has been leaning toward the Cavs all along. If true, it would make good sense. They’re the only NBA team located in the state where he played his college ball, and he has a large and supportive following in Cleveland because of it.
Oden also likes the notion of playing on the same team as Kyrie Irving — and considers the Cavs’ reigning Rookie of the Year the type of dynamic young point guard that could help jumpstart Oden’s rebirth, sources said.
On top of all that, the Cavs are located in the same city as the Cleveland Clinic, famed for its rehabilitation of injuries and ongoing treatment. Oden, clearly, still needs plenty of both.
Sources indicated Oden is likely to try to find the best situation in a variety of areas. That includes not just money, but opportunity.