Though there has been word for weeks that the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers have been eying Greg Oden for his return in the 2013-2014 season, new reports that are circulating say that other teams are now in pursuit of the former number-one draft pick. One of those teams is the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.
On the surface, it may seem like Charlotte is an unlikely destination for the seven-footer trying to make a comeback after battling knee injuries for most of his young NBA career. After all, the Bobcats are a franchise largely associated with losing, as well as being an organization located in a small-market city.
However, upon digging deeper, the move makes a ton of sense for both parties.
For Charlotte, it would give them a reliable post-presence with the ability to play competently on both ends of the floor, something they currently don’t have on their roster. They have an abundance of big-men that specialize in either offense or defense, but none that provide solid production both ways.
In Oden’s two seasons that he saw action in for the Portland Trailblazers, he played in a total of 82 games. In those games, he averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, as well as shooting 57.7 percent from the field. That was also in only 22.1 minutes per game.
So if his number were to be translated into per-36 minute stats, Oden’s numbers would be 15.3 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. That’s pretty astounding production for a big man in today’s NBA.
Oden would also give the Bobcats a much-needed star to help draw a crowd and grow their fan-base. Considering their recent losing-trend and low-end attendance rates, that’s something that the organization could definitely benefit from.
His health is certainly an issue that has to be taken into consideration. However, is there much risk involved for a team that posted the worst season winning percentage in NBA history last year and are on pace for another atrocious season this year taking a flyer on a player that could be a star if he stays healthy? No! There’s no risk at all. If it works out, that’s great. If not, neither has much else that this team has done in recent years.
The deal works for Oden as well, though. Sure, he would be coming to a small-market team. But wouldn’t that be something he would want? It seems likely that he would desire to play for a team where the expectations aren’t exceptionally high and where he can rehab and develop back into NBA-form.
More than that, Oden would also benefit financially in dealing with Charlotte. Teams like the Heat and others involved in Oden rumors won’t be able to offer him much more than the league-minimum because of the amount of salary they have tied up for the 2013-2014 season.
The Bobcats are a different story though, having $35 million in salary to deal with in contracts for next season. That means that they would be able to offer Oden more money, and potentially a longer deal than most other teams that are interested in him could.
So really, this move is logical for both parties. The Bobcats could potentially fill multiple needs for their franchise and Oden could come to a place where he could get a quality paycheck and develop back into a potential force in the league.
The Bobcats should go all-in on this pursuit, if they aren’t already. If it works out for them, it could potentially alter their franchise, both on the court and with the support of their fans. And given the way this team has been viewed as of late, something definitely needs to change.