The New Orleans Pelicans are set to offer a two-year contract to injury-plagued former Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden, NBC Sports reported Friday.
An NBA source said General Manager Dell Demps has not met with Oden and his agent, Mike Conley Sr., in Las Vegas, where a Pelicans team has been participating in the Summer League, although there is interest in Oden. The Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings have meetings scheduled with Oden this week, according to reports.
Messages left for Conley were not immediately returned Friday.
A two-year offer by the Pelicans could put them at the forefront of the pursuit of Oden, who has not played since 2010 - his second season - due to surgeries on both knees. Other teams, most notably the NBA champion Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, are said to have offered one-year contracts, preferring to allow Oden to show he is over the knee injuries.
New Orleans reportedly also is ready to pitch to Oden that it will allow him to work his way back under little pressure. The Heat and Spurs, who lost to Miami in the NBA Finals, see him as more of an immediate, although limited, contributor.
The Pelicans, who this summer signed center Gff reg Stiemsma and acquired rookie center Jeff Withey of Kansas in a trade, reportedly are prepared to offer Oden a contract for about $3 million each season. Other teams are interested in securing him for the league minimum, or approximately $1 million a season for a player with two years experience.
Oden was selected first overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2007 NBA draft after leading Ohio State to the NCAA championship game. All-NBA small forward Kevin Durant of he Oklahoma City Thunder was selected second. Durant's success and that the Trail Blazers experienced similar injury bad luck with Kentucky center Sam Bowie, who was picked ahead of Michael Jordan in 1984, have made for controversy for the team.
Oden, a stalwart defensive player and strong force in the lane when healthy, missed his rookie season after having microfracture surgery on his left knee one month before the season began.
He played in 61 games during the 2008-09 season, averaging 8.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and 56.4 field goal percentage in 21.5 minutes per game. However, he chipped his knee cap in a collision during a game in February and missed the rest of the season.
He averaged 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 60.5 percent on field goals in 23.5 minutes over 21 games the next season, which was cut short in December after he again injured the knee and underwent surgery for a fractured patella. That was his last season on the court.
He had microfracture surgery in March 2010. The following December, the Blazers announced a setback in his recovery and that he would miss 2011-2012. The team negotiated a deal with Oden rather than pay him an $8.9 million qualifying for the rights to match a restricted free-agent contract offer.
He had surgery on his right knee in February 2012 and was scheduled for a procedure on the left one. However, during the operation, damage to his articular cartilage was found, and he underwent his third microfracture surgery. He was waived one month later.
He sat out last season rehabilitating, but in Januaray, teams began showing interest. For a one-year minimum salary, he is considered a low-risk, potential high-reward prospect, especially for a team with title aspirations needing low-minutes contributions.
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