Former Ohio State star Greg Oden is interested in resurrecting his NBA career with the Cavaliers, his agent confirmed Wednesday night.
“He’s a Buckeye,” Mike Conley Sr. said of Oden. “He lives in Columbus. There’s definitely interest there.”
Conley said there is mutual interest with his client and four NBA teams, “and maybe some others will develop in the next 30 days. Who knows? There’s a few scenarios out there that make sense for him.”
Conley and Oden aren’t under any pressure to get a deal done quickly since he won’t play this season. The Cavs have more money to spend this season than the Miami Heat, another team Conley confirmed Oden is interested in. Oden isn’t expected to sign with another team until after next month’s trade deadline, but Conley left open the possibility they wait until fall.
“Our main focus is on next year or the year after and what cap space looks like during that time, who knows?” Conley said.
Oden has endured three microfracture surgeries on his knees — including two on his left knee. He has not played since Dec. 5, 2009, after the Portland Trail Blazers made him the top overall pick of the 2007 draft.
He played in just 82 games in five seasons with the Blazers, averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds. They finally released him near the end of last season.
Conley said Oden’s spirits are “the best they’ve been in a long time. I would say since I’ve known him, but I’ve known him since he was 9.”
Oden and Conley’s son, Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley Jr., are childhood friends from just outside Indianapolis. That’s part of the appeal in playing for the Cavs, since it’s close to home. He could step on a basketball court now, but no one will let him. He is jumping as high as he has in his life, Conley said, and he feels good both mentally and physically. Oden has previously admitted to battles with alcohol and depression while fighting through all of his injuries.
Brandon Roy, Oden’s former teammate in Portland, recently attempted a similar comeback after years of knee problems, only to have it derailed early this season with another knee surgery.
Conley said “it’s all or nothing” with Oden this time.
“He’s either going to be able to play or if he gets hurt again and can’t play, he can’t play,” Conley said. “He’s going to make an impact on whatever team he’s on. A big impact. He’s already back in my eyes. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll get better and better. He hasn’t had a chance to improve his game of basketball because of all this. The upside on him is tremendous. He’s a young kid. He just turned 25. He’s in the prime of his life.”
The Cavs won’t comment on the ongoing negotiations.
“I do not talk about players that are not here,” coach Byron Scott said.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at https://ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.