We’re expected to learn of Greg Oden’s free agent decision as early as next week, and even though the general public has no idea if he can still play basketball at the NBA level, there are six teams reportedly interested in signing him up to see what he’s got.
Miami, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio, Atlanta and Dallas are the teams that reportedly attended workouts in Indianapolis to get a look at where Oden is physically, and as we’ve discussed many times, whichever franchise comes up with the most dollars guaranteed in a multi-year deal will likely land the chance to usher him back onto the NBA scene.
But due to the sensitive nature of the situation, where Oden is perceived to be a lost cause due to the injuries that destroyed a once-promising career, there might be far less for him to deal with from an expectations standpoint if he chooses one of the lower profile teams on that list.
Should Oden reach a deal with Miami, the spotlight on him will be hotter than with any of the other five. He’ll risk being seen as something of a front-runner, as he would to a lesser extent with the Spurs.
Any of the teams lower in the pecking order — the Pelicans, Kings, or Hawks — could offer more modest expectations. And if Oden were to stay healthy and help one of them, he might find himself with more supporters nationally and globally than he would by jumping aboard the Miami or San Antonio bandwagons.
“We’ve looked at all the scenarios,” Duffy said Friday. “There might be less pressure if he tries this with a team that’s rebuilding. Then again, the quality of the medical staff will matter. Maybe a winning team has chemistry that’s good or his role would be clearly defined.”
It’s an interesting facet to a complicated and somewhat delicate situation.
Money will likely be the deciding factor here, as Oden looks to maximize his earning potential just in case his comeback attempt ends up failing. But if he’s sensitive to the public perception, then maybe he will indeed look to join a smaller market team to work on returning to playing professional basketball again in a relatively peaceful environment.