Despite not playing in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009, free agent center Greg Oden has been receiving interest from several NBA teams and is expected to announce his decision on a team by sometime next week.
The 2007 first overall pick did two workouts in Indianapolis this week in front of representatives from the New Orleans Pelicans. During Tuesday’s session, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Sacramento Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro were also in attendance and on Thursday, the Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs had representatives there. The Dallas Mavericks are also rumored to have interest as well.
At 7’0’’, 275 pounds, it’s understandable why teams are interested in taking a gamble on Oden, even though he has only played 82 career NBA games. There was a lot of hype surrounding Oden when he played at Ohio State, but since entering the NBA, numerous knee injuries have plagued his career and in 2012, he underwent his third microfracture knee surgery.
While it’s unknown how much Oden will be able to contribute immediately, teams are hoping he can post numbers similar to the 2009-10 season when he played 21 games, but averaged 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 23.9 minutes per game.
As for the Hawks, adding Oden could be the final piece they’ve been looking for. The Hawks have wanted to move Al Horford to power forward for awhile now, but were unable to find the right center to pair with him. If the Hawks were to sign Oden, Horford would likely still start at center, but the Hawks could bring Oden off the bench, slide Horford to the four and Paul Millsap to the three.
Oden’s next contract will likely be incentive-based with the focus being on his production and the number of games he plays, but the Hawks have an advantage with more money to spend than most of their competition and the lack of a true-center on their roster. While the Hawks aren’t considered to be championship contenders like the Heat and Spurs, they can potentially give Oden a bigger role, which would allow him to resurrect his career and eliminate the bust tag.
Currently, the Hawks frontcourt depth consists of Horford, Millsap, Elton Brand and new free agent acquisition Pero Antic, but Antic was signed for depth purposes and the other three are undersized at center. The Hawks did draft a center in Lucas Noguiera, but they’re undecided on whether they’ll add him to the 15-man roster or let him play overseas.