I love the idea of the Cavs signing Greg Oden.
I love the idea of kicking the tires on a former number one pick and seeing if he can revive his career in the wine and gold.
I love that the Cavs are mentioned alongside perennial contenders like the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics as Oden suitors.
And while it’s usually the Indians (with guys like Kevin Millwood), I love when Cleveland teams take low-risk, high-reward deals.
Sure, there are some problems. Since being drafted in 2007, Greg Oden has appeared in less NBA games (82) than Kyrie Irving (90). He’s had a multiple microfracture surgeries. He’s battled alcohol, leaked private photos and the dealt with pressure of being the face of a franchise. He hasn’t played in a NBA basketball game since December of 2009. Greg Oden is far from a sure thing.
So why do I want the Cavs to sign an oft-injured center to a multi-year contract?
Because he went to Ohio State, duh.
That’s a joke1.
I’d like to think that my Ohio State homerism isn’t influencing my thought process; that if Oden had gone to North Carolina, I’d still be happy that the Cavs are in talks with the former top pick. If my scarlet and gray glasses are coloring anything, it’s that I’d rather Oden sign in a no pressure situation, than be expected to contribute right away on a playoff team. Of course I want Oden, like any Buckeye, to succeed. I won’t deny that.2
I’m probably more biased as a Cavs fan. I watched Zydrunas Ilgauskas battle foot injuries early in his career, only to see him become the Cavs’ all-time leader in games played. Sure, Oden’s injuries aren’t similar to Z’s, but the longterm prospects of centers with chronic feet injuries wasn’t good either. I’ve seen with my own eyes that a lumbering center can get his body right and go onto a long career.
Basically, if Greg Oden is going to make an attempt to restart his career (and he is), I’d rather he do it Cleveland. I don’t really see the downside.
The Cavs have roughly $29 millions of salary committed to next season’s roster. Under the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, the salary floor is now 85% of the salary cap. Given that this year’s floor is $49 million, I would expect next year’s floor to be something similar. At the moment, the Cavs are roughly $20 million below next year’s floor, so they’re going to have so sign some players regardless of what happens with Oden (EDIT: The Cavs don’t have to sign anyone to meet the floor. If team fails to meet the salary floor, the difference is distributed evenly among the players on the roster).
- Shooting Guard: Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, J.J. Redick, Tony Allen, Randy Foye, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Nick Young, Mike Dunleavy.
- Small Forward: Stephen Jackson, Dorrell Wright, Matt Barnes, Corey Maggette, Josh Childress, Chase Budinger, Josh Howard.
- Power Forward: Josh Smith, David West, Paul Milsap, Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, J.J. Hickson, Jason Maxiell.
- Center: Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Al Jefferson, Chris Kaman, Zaza Pachulia, Samuel Dalembert.
Those are the best of the bunch. Are you excited?
So who should the Cavs target?4 Cleveland’s biggest position of need is the small forward spot and the 2013 class is horrendous.((but the 2014 class…)) I’d be fine with taking a look at someone like Barnes or Dunleavy, but odds are they’ll want to sign with a contender (and they won’t get you to the floor by themselves).
The power forward position looks fairly decent, but I worry about overpaying someone like Paul Milsap or David West (and are you signing them to start over Tristan Thompson? No? So they’ll sign with Cleveland to come off the bench? Really?). I’d like to see the Cavs do what the Pacers did with David West and pay a second tier free agent a lot of money over a short period5, upgrading the roster while keeping their long term flexibility open, but I’m not sure who that free agent is.
My point is, barring a trade, the Cavs will need to spend some cash this offseason. Signing Oden to a multi-year deal at $4 million per helps them reach that floor and keeps them from overpaying someone like Paul Milsap (I want nothing to do with a 6-8 power forward). Even if Oden does gives you nothing, he’s replacing guys like Daniel Gibson and Omri Casspi on your books and he won’t hurt your ability to sign other free agents or make other trades.
And if Oden can give you something… anything…
Having Oden play 20 minutes a night in a big man rotation with Thompson, Anderson Varejao, Tyler Zeller wouldn’t suck (Speights has a player option and I’m not sure if he’ll be back). TT and Oden would be a nice back line of the defense and would allow Irving and Waiters to press a little more.
Sure, the odds are Oden won’t stay healthy. Kyrie Irving isn’t exactly known for his durability and he’s already played in more games than Oden. Can the Cavs really expect to keep Irving, Varejao and Greg Oden healthy for a full year? Heck, knowing Cleveland, he’d sign here, play healthy all year and then get hurt in the first round.
But despite all the risks, I really don’t see a downside. Oden won’t hurt your cap, he won’t hurt your ability to sign free agents and he’d take up a roster spot currently occupied by Kevin Jones/Luke Walton/Omri Casspi/Boobie Gibson.
And if nothing else, the Cavs singing Oden will keep us from having to watch the former Buckeye help LeBron win a title.
Well, until 2014, anyways.
- but Jim Tressel should totally coach the Browns [↩]
- I blame myself for all of Oden’s troubles. I’ve purchased exactly two Ohio State jerseys in my life, Oden and Maurice Clarrett. I apologize to all of Columbus [↩]
- there’s some interesting restricted FA’s like Nikola Pekovic or Gerald Henderson, but you usually have to overpay RFAs so their teams won’t match. No thanks. [↩]
- And please don’t say Howard or Bynum or Josh Smith. Players like that don’t come to Cleveland as free agents. [↩]
- the Pacers gave West a 2-year, $20 million deal [↩]