CLEVELAND: Greg Oden had a pretty good view of the Cavs’ game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll have an even better seat at the Q next season.
Oden attended the Cavs’ game Friday as a guest of Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley Jr., his best friend since childhood – yet wound up in Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s baseline seats adjacent the Cavs’ bench.
Gilbert wasn’t in attendance Friday, so arena personnel invited Oden to move down from his original seats five rows behind the Cavs’ bench. It was a fascinating scene, given the negotiations between the Cavs and Oden’s agent – who also happens to be Conley’s father.
Oden was showed on the video board twice during the game as fans cheered and said he is still interested in playing for the Cavs despite not signing a contract yet.
“I live in Ohio. It’s home now,” Oden said. “They have a great organization and I really do think they’re up and coming.”
The Cavs are believed to have offered Oden a two-year deal that would begin this season and include a team option for a third year, but Oden hasn’t signed. Now it’s looking like he won’t sign a deal until this summer, when more teams will have cap space and the demand could increase.
“Obviously the longer it goes, the more it looks like that” he won’t sign until summer, Oden’s agent, Mike Conley Sr. said Friday.
The game against the Grizzlies was Oden’s first Cavs game as a casual fan. He lives in Columbus again and said the organization’s partnership with the Cleveland Clinic will be a factor in his decision.
“With my process, one of the top two things I have to think about is the medical staff and how is it going to help me,” Oden said. “I want to play and I want to play for some time. Not just come in and see what happens. I want to be able to have a career.”
Asked what his expectations are once he returns to the NBA, Oden paused for a moment.
“I hope I can contribute to a good team,” Oden said. “I definitely think I’m that type of player, but I have to get on the court.”
Oden hasn’t played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009. He has endured three microfracture surgeries on his knees, including two on his left knee.
Conley Jr. said Oden’s spirits are at an all-time high and conceded all of the injuries with the Portland Trail Blazers left him depressed.
“Now he’s loving life. He’s loving the game, he watches all the games and texts me when I have good and bad games,” Conley Jr. said. “He loves Cleveland, loves the state of Ohio. He lives in Columbus and he’d like to be as close to home as possible, so what better place than Cleveland? I think that’d be a great spot for him. Hopefully something will work out.”
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