Despite not stepping on an NBA court since 2009, often-hurt center Greg Oden is already garnering interest from teams as he rehabs from micro-fracture surgery.
The former No. 1 pick of the 2007 draft, Oden has reportedly narrowed his choices down to the Miami Heat or the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to CBS Sports.com.
Out of Ohio State, Oden has played 82 professional games, all with the Portland Trailblazers. Injuries to both of his knees severely limited Oden’s development, and prompted many around the league to call him a bust.
Still size is such a huge premium in the NBA that many teams would take the risk on a big man like Oden, who was heralded for his shot-blocking and overwhelming athleticism.
The 7-footer is aiming for next season to make his return and according to the Miami Herald, is scheduled to meet with the Heat in the next two weeks.
Size has been a major concern for both Miami and Cleveland. The Heat are dead last in the NBA in rebounding, and are especially thin at center after Chris Bosh. Bosh has played out of position since he arrived in Miami, with the offensively-limited Joel Anthony backing him up.
Cleveland sports the third worst record in the East, and are a young team still rebuilding after LeBron James bolted to the Heat in 2010. Oden could make an excellent tandem with newly dubbed All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, and could help budding forward Tristan Thompson develop.
Cleveland could also keep Oden close to family, as he’s originally from nearby Indiana.
When news spread several weeks ago that Oden was training for a return, Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge said his club was also monitoring his progress. Like Miami, Boston is in need of size, and have had trouble on the boards all season.
For his career, Oden averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. He should not effect either team's payroll significantly. Oden could ink a minimum deal this season, with next year included.