I don't need to tell you Greg Oden's background story. I don't need to tell you that he's recovering from multiple knee surgeries that have limited him to all but a handful of games throughout his career. I don't have to remind you that he hasn't played a game since the 2009-10 season. You know because whenever you hear the name Oden you simultaneously think "man, we dodged a bullet there (in '07)" and "hey, I wonder if he might be a guy we could pick up on a vet minimum deal as a low-risk, high-reward deal."
So with that unnecessary lead in, here's the latest on him.
Former Ohio State forward DeShaun Thomas said part of his predraft workouts have included sessions with former Trail Blazers center Greg Oden at the St. Vincents Performance Center in Indianapolis. Oden, who played in 82 games in four seasons after being the No. 1 overall pick with the Blazers in 2007, hasn't played since December of 2009 because of knee problems, but is working toward a comeback. "Man, he looks unbelievable," Thomas said. "He's running, he's lifting weights. You might be seeing a comeback. He looks like he is ready to go. He's running, getting in shape. I'll tell you one thing: For a big 7-footer, that's all he does -- running and getting in shape. He's looking right."
That's wonderful news for him and it certainly sounds like things might maybe sorta kinda perhaps be turning in the right direction for the young man that looks like an old man and has had more life lessons than most young men his age. But, I think it is fair to consider the source before we get too carried away.
There are more than a few qualifiers to this report, however. Thomas is not an NBA scout or talent evaluator, "running and getting in shape" is not playing in a full-contact game against NBA top competition and both players belong to an Ohio State basketball family that probably wants to help each member in any way possible. Thomas tossed out a lot of superlatives in his sound bite on Oden, and perhaps that's the best thing he can do for a fellow Buckeye.
All of that said, he's still a huge, talented, high upside kind of talent that could be a very useful NBA center even at 80% of what his original upside was. At the very least, we know that Ainge (and many other GMs) have been interested.
Back in February, Oden was in Waltham meeting with the Celtics brass. He's also got a few other options according to reports.
Oden has drawn interest this season from a number of teams, including the Spurs, Hornets, Bobcats, Pacers and Mavericks, according to ESPN.com. The Heat have been linked to interest in Oden for years and Oden’s agent, Mike Conley Sr., told Fox Sports Florida this season that there is mutual interest. The Associated Press reported recently that Oden said that his goal is to be ready for the start of the 2013-14 season.
So it sounds like he might be finding his way back onto an NBA court next year. Which team's colors will he be wearing? Stay tuned.
Update: It sounds like the Celtics are still interested, but he isn't their top priority (per Steve Bulpett):
“We’ll look into Greg still,” Ainge said of the 2007 No. 1 overall pick who hasn’t played since making 21 appearances in the 2009-10 season. “He wasn’t ready to play when we saw him last. He wasn’t ready to work out — I mean, not like a real workout. We’ll probably check into that some time this summer.”