NBA Rumors: Greg Oden Wants to Play. Atlanta a Good Fit?

By Michael Collins

Former Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden hasn’t played an NBA game since December of 2009, but that doesn’t mean his name has been off the radar for some NBA teams.  The injury-prone center is back in the news again this week via the voice of his agent, Mike Conley.

Conley said in an interview that Oden is considering re-thinking his decision to possibly sit out the entire 2012-13 season:

“(Oden) called me, and he was kind of excited, I think he’s motivated.  He wants to play. He had said he wanted to take this season off, but he’s backed off from that….He’s open to playing this season. I think he will play this season.  He’s going to sign somewhere.  He’s going to get healthy and be coming back.”

Oden was waived by the Blazers in March of this year after suffering another setback in what had been a string of debilitating knee and foot injuries since being drafted with the number one overall pick by Portland in 2007.  The one-time Ohio State star has only been able to play in a total of 83 games in a five-year span.

Conley stats that there is no timetable for a potential return by Oden this season, and that seven NBA teams that have contacted him about his client.

The question now becomes who is going to be willing to take a chance with what will most likely be a league-minimum dollar contract for a 24-year old center with chronic knee issues?

At 7-feet tall and 285 pounds, there are a lot of teams that could use his kind of help in the paint, but despite his size and talent, his body has yet to show it can absorb the punishment of an NBA season.

With the Atlanta Hawks in the midst of a rebuilding project, Oden might look like an attractive and inexpensive option for general manager Danny Ferry.  The Hawks struggled for help at the center position last season with starter Al Horford missing most of the season with an injury, and band-aid signings of aging veterans Erick Dampier and Jason Collins doing little to help.

Oden may never have the career that was projected for him coming out of college, but the Hawks could use some size down low, and at the very least, Oden (if able to play) could provide a body off the bench to come in and grab some rebounds, play some solid defense and block some shots.  That in itself might make him worth the gamble.


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