Greg Oden is not just a cautionary tale. He’s a living, breathing, seven-foot-tall human being, who’s still only 27 years old, and he wants to play basketball again. To that end, he worked out for the Charlotte Hornets last week, and is scheduled to work out with the Dallas Mavericks this week, according to RealGM. This is in addition to a workout he had with the Memphis Grizzlies in the spring, who RealGM reports continue to monitor Oden (which is ominously worded).
After his injury-tortured stint with the Portland Trail Blazers ended in 2012, Oden spent the 2013-2014 season as an end-of-bench reserve for the Miami Heat (who couldn’t even get him a dang ring, another LeBron failure). In the 2014 offseason, Oden was arrested for punching his girlfriend, and afterwards failed to catch on with an NBA team for this past season. He’s still under probation for the offense.
A year later, with Oden’s domestic violence conviction farther in the rearview mirror, he’s once again gaining interest from teams in need of tall men who’ve once displayed NBA-level basketball skills. So of the three supposedly interested parties, which of Memphis, Charlotte and Dallas would be the best landing spot for Oden?
The Grizzlies look like the best place for Greg, considering that their star point guard, Mike Conley Jr., was his college teammate. Though Marc Gasol will almost certainly re-sign with Memphis, Oden’s a potential starter on exactly zero teams, so more relevant is backup center Kosta Koufos being an unrestricted free agent. Oden’s a potential primary backup big on exactly zero teams, but the fact that Memphis’ frontcourt isn’t all that crowded bodes well for him.
The Hornets’ frontcourt is actually fairly crowded, with Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller and Spencer Hawes all under contract for next season. However, only Zeller grades out as a plus defender (by a couple of measures) among that trio, and Oden’s game of defense, rebounding and pick-and-roll finishing is missing in Charlotte – as long as Bismack Biyombo proves too pricey in restricted free agency. Oden wouldn’t be used much, but if you squint you could see a niche for him with the Hornets.
Dallas seems like it makes the most sense as a destination for Oden. Tyson Chandler is an unrestricted free agent with no guarantee to return (especially as the Mavericks might be chasing DeAndre Jordan), and whatever the Mavericks do this offseason, chances are they’re going to need to fill some roster spots on the cheap if they get the players they want. And considering Dallas was already paper-thin in the frontcourt last year, not only are they one of the teams most likely to need a player like Oden, they might be the team most likely to play him.