With a playoff berth unattainable, the 16-34 Cleveland Cavaliers are tinkering with their roster, and are seen as big players at the trade deadline with their young assets and copious amount of cap space over the next two seasons.
But the Cavs are also exploring options on the free-agent market. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Cleveland is preparing to offer injured, albeit talented, big man Greg Oden a two-year contract. The deal would include a third-year team option.
The 25-year-old Oden hasn’t taken the court since 2010, thanks to three micro-fracture surgeries on his knees. The Portland Trailblazers selected Oden with the No. 1 overall pick in 2007, with eye-popping athleticism and shot blocking ability that prompted comparisons to NBA legends.
Portland chose Oden over Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant, adding to their supposed "curse" when it comes to drafting centers. Since his injury, Oden has been paired with Sam Bowie, the center Portland selected over Michael Jordan in the 1984 Draft. Bowie also suffered numerous leg injuries, and never lived up to his perceived potential.
How much Cleveland will offer Oden per season remains to be seen, but considering his injury history, Oden cannot command a lucrative contract.
The Cavaliers were not the only team watching Oden’s rehab efforts. The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics were also tabbed as landing spots for Oden, who was reportedly looking to sign with a team this season and continue his rehab, but not play until next year.
All three teams need Oden for his defense and rebounding. Cleveland is 26th in the league allowing 101.2 points per game, and 21st in rebounding with hustling forward Anderson Varejao sidelined for the rest of the year with a blood clot in his lower right lung.
Miami and Boston are the two worst rebounding teams in the NBA, and the Heat have been in the market for a big man since they signed LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in 2010. Those three make up such a huge chunk of Miami's payroll that the club has avoided signing a quality center.
Boston team president Danny Ainge has denied reports that he is shopping superstars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, but with All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo out for the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the Celtics may have no choice but to start over. Adding Oden could signal the end of an era in Boston.