Oft-injured Oden wants to play this season
Greg Oden, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft, has missed 312 of 394 games in his NBA career. (Craig Mitchelldyer-US PRESSWIRE)
July 12, 2012
BLUE LIGHT SPECIALS: Heat President Pat Riley may have even more up his sleeve when it comes to free agents.
Injury-riddled Greg Oden could be returning to the NBA this season.
That’s the word from Oden’s agent, Mike Conley, who got a call earlier this week from Oden. He said his client has changed his tune from wanting to take this season off.
“(Oden) called me, and he was kind of excited,’’ Conley said Thursday in a phone interview with FOX Sports Florida. “I think he’s motivated …. He wants to play. He had said he wanted to take this season off, but he’s backed off from that …. He’s open to playing this season. I think he will play this season.’’
Oden, the star-crossed center who was taken No. 1 in the 2007 NBA draft by Portland ahead of No. 2 Kevin Durant, hasn’t played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009. Out of 394 possible games in his NBA career, he’s missed 312.
Oden has had five surgeries on both his knees since entering the NBA, including two surgeries last February, one being his third microfracture procedure. He was waived by the Trail Blazers last March, making him a free agent.
Oden was quoted in a Grantland article last May about his plan to take the entire 2012-13 season off. But Oden told Conley this week about the change in his thinking.
“He’s starting to work out,’’ Conley said of Oden, who was recently cleared for workouts, feeling better about his situation. “He’s excited. You can tell he’s getting antsy. At the end of the day, I want him to finish out his NBA career. He’s still pretty young (24).’’
Conley, who said the former Ohio State star is committed to regular workouts this summer in Columbus, Ohio, said there’s still no timetable as to what point next season he believes Oden will be able to play. He said seven NBA teams, which he declined to name, have been keeping in regular touch with him, but Conley doesn’t anticipate it will be until the fall before there are any serious negotiations.
“We want to get to the point where he’s more healthy and can show teams what he can do (in workouts),’’ Conley said. “There’s still no timetable, and that’s the beauty of him being on his own. He doesn’t have to give anybody a timetable.''
Conley said he has not heard from the Miami Heat at all since Oden was waived. But he said Oden has interest in the Heat if they ever were to be interested.
“Obviously, if the Heat wanted him, who wouldn’t want to play for the Heat?’’ Conley said of the defending champions. “That goes without saying. They have roster spots and a need (at center). But it’s too early to say about where he might play.’’
Conley said Oden splits his time between his hometown of Indianapolis and Columbus. Conley said he’s now taking summer classes at Ohio State, which he led to the NCAA title game in his only season there of 2006-07.
Obviously, Oden has had plenty of down moments due to all his injuries. But Conley said Oden has never talked about the possibility of retiring.
For now, Conley said Oden is as excited as he’s been in a long time. He pointed out it was Oden who called him unsolicited to express a willingness to play this season.
“He’s going to sign somewhere,’’ Conley said. “He’s going to get healthy and be coming back.’’