Greg Oden in March of 2012 (Getty Images)The Cleveland Cavaliers rank 27th in defense this season, and with Anderson Varejao out for the season (and possibly traded during the offseason) the Cavaliers are reportedly set to offer a contract to one of the greatest defensive big men of his generation. Even if he didn’t actually play for most of this generation’s term.
Jason Lloyd covers the Cavs expertly for the Akron Beacon-Journal, and on Friday he reported that the Cavaliers will offer Greg Oden a two-year contract following the Feb. 21 trade deadline, utilizing cap space that would presumably put the Cavaliers ahead of Oden’s various other suitors, ones that would be offering him a minimum contract. And this is only if the Cavaliers go past the deadline without acting as a trade facilitator with that extra cap space.
Oden is living nearby in Columbus. His agent, Mike Conley Sr., said last week Oden has been to see the Cavs a couple of times already, but was evasive when pressed as to what capacity.
“Greg has been up there (to Cleveland) before and he’ll probably be up there again in an official capacity,” Conley said Friday.
This is the first instance of a team reportedly being set to offer a deal. Other squads, like the Celtics and Heat, have been rumored to have shown interest, but this is the first leak with actual terms.
It could be a move by Conley’s agent – the father of Memphis Grizzlies point guard and former Oden teammate Mike Conley Jr. – in order to drive Oden’s asking price up. Even if Oden appeared fully healthy and the checkups all went according to plan, he was still probably only going to get a minimum deal from any of the teams involved.
At this price, though, and even if this a move from Oden’s camp to drive up the bidding … is this still the best move for Greg?
Oden’s not playing this season, that’s never been in question, but the terms Lloyd is reporting have him signing a two-year deal with a team option for the third season. Even for the most pessimistic of Oden followers, doesn’t this seem like something he may want to pass on – even if Oden is paid cash this season for not playing a game?
Greg Oden turns 26 midway through the 2013-14 season. If he were able to pull off a relatively healthy year (say, 60 or so games at around 22 minutes a contest) it’s likely that he’s going to be contributing the sort of production that we saw in his 82-game stint with Portland. And if you’ll recall, Oden was pretty darn good in his time with Portland – averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds with 2.3 blocks in 22 minutes a contest, as the Blazers monitored his minutes and rarely ran plays for him.
That sort of production is coveted at the center position, and Oden would be in line for a good deal for a starting quality 27-year old center with upside. And if he signs the contract with Cleveland that Lloyd is reporting, then the Cavs would have his option for the next year at a super cheap price. Perhaps I’m being too optimistic, but we do have to remind ourselves that Greg Oden has done absolutely nothing but rehabilitate since the fall of 2009 – and that nastiness can swing both ways. He could be ready, structurally sound yet again, and free from the mental and physical obstacles that plagued him in Portland.
Right now, it’s just an anonymously-sourced report, and a pipe dream. When it comes to 7-footers that can defend like mad and potentially dominate the paint, we can’t help but hope for the best.
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