The New Orleans Pelicans were right in the mix to potentially land former number one overall pick Greg Oden this past week as the center is attempting to make his comeback to the NBA. However, now that Oden has decided to take his talents to South Beach instead of to the land of Mardi Gras, that leaves the Pelicans in a bit of a bind.
Though it’s not the smartest strategy to bank on landing a free-agent, much less a free-agent with a history of debilitating knee injuries, that’s kind of what the Pelicans were doing with their pursuit of Oden. So not landing him leaves them with a huge hole at the center position.
In the sign-and-trade that landed them Tyreke Evans this summer, New Orleans traded away their starting center from last season in Robin Lopez. Even though they acquired the rights to Jeff Withey via a draft-night trade and signed Greg Stiemsma to a deal this summer, that’s not exactly a reliable rotation of centers for New Orleans.
Though Withey has the potential to be an elite rim protector and solid rebounder, he’s not exactly sound offensively at this point. Similarly, in 131 career NBA games, Stiemsma has averaged just 3.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 15.1 minutes per game on 48.4 percent shooting.
It’s unclear what the Pelicans are planning to do at this point. Potentially they could experiment by putting Anthony Davis at the five, but that seems like too big of a risk for a young player. They could look to sign another free-agent center, but at this point in the summer, the market is quite slim. Ultimately, it seems like the Pelicans were banking on signing Oden to solidify their roster at the five and now they are going to have to scramble to make something work.