Last week, Oden admitted to becoming an alcoholic during his time with the Portland Trail Blazers and expressed plans to take the 2012-2013 season off completely.
You never want to deny a professional athlete the opportunity to make a comeback, but a return to the NBA would be a particularly unlikely accomplishment for Oden. He was released by the Blazers in March shortly after undergoing surgeries on both knees and he hasn't appeared in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009.
In a February interview with CBSSports.com, Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan laid out in detail the medical issues facing Oden, which included a total of five knee surgeries, including three microfracture surgeries, plus blood clots in his left ankle and persistent pain and swelling during his rehabilitation process. Buchanan admitted that Oden never got particularly close to a return to the court during his time in Portland and that he was never cleared for full-contact basketball activities after his Dec. 2009 patella fracture. In that time, Oden underwent three additional knee surgeries and is currently facing months of rehabilitation from the most recent of those.
Of course, Oden wouldn't be Miami's first major reclamation project. The Heat brought in Eddy Curry after a number of workouts, and he appeared in 14 games for Miami this season, the first NBA action the former lottery pick had seen since the 2009-2010 season. Curry was thought to be unsalvageable and the Heat still somehow found a way, so it's accurate to say that nothing is impossible.
Signing Oden at this point is a no-risk proposition for any team. He comes at the league's minimum salary and requires nothing more than a roster spot and a medical staff. The question is whether there is any potential reward to be found. Unlike with Curry, this isn't just a matter of him going on a hardcore diet to drop 100 pounds. The question is whether his knees -- operated on time and again -- can take the kind of punishment required to get cleared to play basketball, let alone compete in NBA games night after night. Years of health setbacks suggest that a full return is a longshot, at best.
If Oden could fill even 10 minutes a night, signing him would be a worthwhile cause. Even if he lacked his old mobility, he's still tall, long and coordinated. Unfortunately, his recent rehabilitation history strongly suggests that even that type of modest contribution isn't likely.
I think that he is done- his knees cannot take the stress of even practicing, let alone an NBA game. It is such a waste, it seemed like he was going to be one of those iconic big men, but now we are left with the bitch Howard and baby Bynum.
Everytime you hear "I should be practicing again in a few months", he comes back with a new injury and it's "Greg Oden out 8-12 months". Don't get your homer hopes to high.