Citing an anonymous general manager offering an educated guess, Fox Sports reporter Sam Amico yesterday that the Spurs are one of three teams who could — could – be interested in signing draft bust Greg Oden. This was followed with a full-fledged chronicling how little interest Oden, the former No. 1 draft choice whose career has been totally derailed by injuries, is receiving on the free agent market.
And with good reason. Following in the unfortunate footsteps of Bill Walton and Sam Bowie, Oden’s career quickly unraveled after he was selected No. 1 overall — in front of three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant — by Portland in 2007. More accurately, it never really got started. Hampered by a variety of chronic knee and leg injuries, Oden played in just 82 games over five seasons for the Blazers — developing an in the process — before they waived him in March.
The truly sad part for basketball fans is that Oden, 24, showed flashes of greatness when he did play, registering a 23.1 Player Efficiency Rating in 21 games in 2009-10. (Anything in the 20s is considered All-Star caliber.)
Oden has expressed desire to return to the court. But when that will happen, if ever, remains to be seen. He recently pumped the brakes on a report that he was interested in signing with the Heat, telling the he needed at least another year off.
“I would love to play [in 2012-13], but I’m not going to rush anything,” he said. “I need to take a year off. What I told (player agent Mike Conley Sr., the father of former Ohio State teammate Mike Conley Jr.) was ‘Look, I want to get back with a team. I want to play. If there’s a chance that later on in the [NBA] year, if I feel good or if I’m healthy enough to play, I would love to play this year.’ That’s the conversation we had. I think some people kinda blew that up and took his words and kinda changed them around. I know I need to get healthy first before I do anything…It’s not like teams are out there telling people they want me, because they’re not right now.”
Oden went on to say he’d like to eventually be a middle school or high school gym teacher, calling it “the best job ever” because they get weekends off and get to to wear sweatpants to work. (You’d think multi-millionaire basketball star would have more perks, but apparently not. Nobody boos gym teachers when they pick mismatched teams in dodge ball.)
If Oden needs any inspiration, he need look no further than Walton, who played in just 167 games from 1979 to 1985 before enjoying one last hurrah with Boston in 1986, winning the Sixth Man of the Year award while helping the Celtics win the championship. And Bowie was at least solid after recovering from his injuries.
But even though there’s hope Oden can rekindle his career, it doesn’t look like there’s much chance he’ll be doing it this season — in San Antonio, or anywhere else.