Jonesin' for Oden

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After four hundred thousand knee surgeries, Greg Oden anticipates being ready for the NBA opener next season. The Cavaliers are one of two teams on which the first-overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft would like to land. The other? You guessed it: the Miami Heat.

Most teams don't even want to take a chance on Oden. He's a gamble, for sure. At 25, he's played in only 82 professional games, all with Portland. And he's had so many microfracture knee surgeries (three) that he makes Anderson Varejao look like Cal Ripken Jr.

Thing is, he's got enormous upside. Oden's averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in his scant appearances, but his impact is a lot more significant than the numbers suggest.

In the first place, he's huge. Seven-footers with bulk who can control their weight are scarce in the NBA — have a look at the way pundits refer to the elusive "true" center — and at 250 pounds, he'd be size in the front court that we'd be ludicrous to sneer at. He's only 25 years old, though he looks like a much older man, and he's never had the chance to get into a rhythm.

Pat Riley's trying to woo him with the camaraderie of superstars and sun tans and the promise of championships. But we've got more money in the bank and a young man named Kyrie Irving.

From the CBSSports report:

Miami would likely offer a deal for minimum salary while the Cavs could pay up to nearly $4 million. The Boston Celtics are another team that has expressed interest, but the source said that Oden is leaning towards making a comeback with either Cleveland or Miami.

He's from the Indianapolis area and went to Ohio State. With any luck, the allure of the Midwestern casserole might trump the shimmer of the South Beach mixed drink.

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