Report: Dallas also has interest in signing Greg Oden

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The fact that teams would seriously consider signing Greg Oden to a contract, a guy that hasn’t played in the NBA since 2009 and missed most of four seasons before that, speaks to two things:

1) The dearth of quality big men in the NBA.

2) Just how good Greg Oden was back in the day, the potential he had, that all these years later teams think he maybe could contribute someday.

Oden is taking classes at Ohio State and working to get back into shape to potentially make another another comeback. And teams including the Heat would have interest if he does.

The latest team to reportedly have interest is the Dallas Mavericks, reports ESPNDallas.com.

A source told ESPNDallas.com that the Mavs have been among the teams in contact with Oden’s agent, Mike Conley Sr., while the 7-footer rehabs from his third microfracture surgery and takes classes at Ohio State.

Oden likely would not return to the court until next season — if he is able to return at all — but interested teams would love to lock him up with a multi-year deal (with team options) and have him rehab with team doctors and trainers. Basically, get him off the market before anyone else signs him up.

But Oden seems comfortable taking his time. As he should. He has come to peace with this more than most, he knows there is no rush. If he wants to do this it is a long, hard process. He just needs to take a step everyday and make a move when he is ready.

I’d still be shocked — happy for him, but shocked — if he ever played again. But with the state of big men in the NBA today teams are willing to take a chance.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.