Should the Timberwolves Sign Greg Oden?

What lies ahead for Greg Oden?

What lies ahead for Greg Oden?

In case you missed it, ESPN reported that a Greg Oden comeback tour may be in the works.  Oden, of course, had the misfortune of being selected over Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant with the top pick in the 2007 draft – the misfortune being not that Oden earned a lot of money as the #1 overall pick, but rather that he’s had to endure non-stop rants ever since about how the Blazers should’ve taken Durant and how he’s the Sam Bowie to Durant’s Michael Jordan.

That said, Oden had a pretty ridiculously successful run during that period in 2009 (wow, that really was an eternity ago…) when he was healthy. For the 21 games he played in the 2009-10 season Oden averaged just shy of 17 & 13 per 36 minutes.  He also blocked 3.4 shots per 36.

I’ve always been forever enamored of Oden’s talent, soft touch around the hoop, rebounding, and, of course, his size. And I’d really like a rim protector not named Greg Stiemsma to take the backup minutes when Pek isn’t out there. (And yes, for the record, this discussion assumes the Wolves match any reasonable Pekovic deal, so we’re not looking at this as an either/or despite the potential salary cap challenges the Wolves will face.

Andy G and I took to the wheel to discuss whether the Wolves – still scarred, certainly, from last season’s free-agent acquisition of Oden’s former Portland teammate Brandon Roy – ought to take a gamble on Oden this offseason, and what they should do with him if they were to acquire him.

Patrick J: Okay, the question is, should the Wolves take a flyer on Greg Oden? Before getting into issues about his health – neither of us has any clue what the long-term prognosis will actually be – let’s first look at the list of 2013 free agent centers to get a sense of what else is out there. I’d categorize them into five groups that roughly correspond to “good but too expensive,” “no good and too expensive,” “irrelevant,” and “don’t touch with a 10-foot pole.” Then you have the fifth group, which I’d call “potentially interesting candidates.”

List of 2013 Free Agent Centers


Ivan Johnson – potentially interesting candidate

Timofey Mozgov – potentially interesting candidate

Daniel Orton – don’t touch with a 10-foot pole


Johan Petro – irrelevant

Chris Wilcox – don’t touch with a 10-foot pole

Byron Mullens – don’t touch with a 10-foot pole

DeSagana Diop – irrelevant

Nazr Mohammed – irrelevant

Chris Kaman – good but too expensive

Andris Biedrins (ETO) – potentially interesting candidate

Ryan Hollins – don’t touch with a 10-foot pole

Dwight Howard – good but too expensive

Chris Andersen – don’t touch with a 10-foot pole (or he might touch you back)

Samuel Dalembert – potentially interesting candidate

Kurt Thomas – irrelevant (sadly)

Kwame Brown (P) – irrelevant

Andrew Bynum – good but too expensive/don’t touch with a 10-foot pole

Jermaine O’Neal – irrelevant

J.J. Hickson – no good and too expensive

Cole Aldrich – irrelevant

Tiago Splitter – good but too expensive

Al Jefferson – good but too expensive

Emeka Okafor (ETO) – good but too expensive

Jason Collins – irrelevant

Based on my back-of-the-envelope calculations, most fall into the “irrelevant” or “10-foot pole” categories. A few are good but will be beyond our means.

The list of potentially interesting (realistic) candidates is pretty short: Johnson, Mozgov, Dalembert, and Biedrins. Of those, Johnson and Mozgov are restricted.

So, if you’re in the market for a backup center, these might be the guys you look at. Shouldn’t Oden be in the conversation?

Andy G: I want Oden to be next year’s Stiemer.  He should never practice, just play short minutes for 60 or so games (maybe no back-to-backs?).  He’s a luxury piece at this point, not a heavy contributor. But I know what’ll happen, just like you do: Some team will work him out and have their Brandon Roy Moment, delude themselves into thinking he’s back! and overwork his vulnerable knees.  Teams and players just can’t help themselves.  Same thing’ll happen with Bynum.  It’s the Bill Walton story recycled a million times over.

Patrick J: I’m not a gambler in my own life, but I don’t mind gambling with Glen Taylor’s money. I loved the Roy gamble and I like the idea of an Oden flyer for the right price. High risk/reward is fun. Plus, didn’t Bill Walton help the Celtics to the ‘86 championship? What’s your take on this stuff?

Andy G: Yeah I like the risk and liked the Roy risk — just not how Roy was WAY overused.  He was practicing really hard, full time/full speed.  He should be on the ELIPTICAL! in practice and just doing walk-through stuff so he knows the plays.  Yeah he won’t be in “game shape” but he can still give a couple of 5-7 minute stints per game.

I just checked about ’86 Walton: He played 19.3 minutes per game (in an impressive-by-his-standards 80 games).  The next year he played 10 games and called it a career.

Bill Walton

Bill Walton

I’d like to see Oden playing 10 or so minutes/game and basically not practicing.  I just think it’s the only way, and that he could be valuable in that role.

He could *maybe* even break the WIN SHARES PER 48 record?



Filed under Features, Timberwolves

13 responses to “Should the Timberwolves Sign Greg Oden?

  1. Eric in Madison

    Few things:

    FIrst, FFS Andy, how long have we been having this Oden conversation?

    Second, you still need a backup; you cannot count on Oden being available. So for the Wolves, it means adding him to Pekovic and Steamer (or whoever replaces Steamer). He can’t be your primary backup.

    Andy is right; someone will sign him expecting (or at least trying) to get more out of him then 10 minutes a night.

    Finally, Patrick, the one guy on your list you are clearly wrong on is Chris Andersen. He’s worthwhile; frankly the Wolves would have been better off with him instead of Steamer this year. That would have made a substantive positive difference.

    • I can’t quit him.

      I don’t think he’ll be on the Wolves radar at all for the reason about needing a backup center, the history with Roy (and other injuries) and the team’s cap situation that doesn’t really allow for exploring free agents of any note unless Pek or Bud is let go. But removing those factors and just discussing it hypothetically, I’d like to see Oden in a very, very limited role. There are backups around the league like Stiemer that are so limited in what they can do, or have such major flaws in their games that I would think Oden could be a nice improvement for some of them — again, as long as he isn’t asked to run very much at all.

    • @Eric in Madison: I fully agree with you about Andersen. He’s always made his Denver teams better, and now he’s doing the same in Miami. I was confident he could/would do the same in Minny, but apparently Kahn & co viewed differently or were squeamish about signing a tattooed big under FBI investigation for various child pron charges. I have no idea if he’s guilty or innocent and so I give him the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. But the FO/Adelman certainly showed zero interest when he was a free agent, else I’d have categorized him as a “potentially interesting possibility.”

      • Eric in Madison

        Ah. I see.Didn’t realize those rankings involved the actual Wolves’ actual (dis) interest. In that case, you are correct.

  2. Oden really is the great unknown at this point, one with an admittedly tantalizing upside. But the down side is clearly wasting money. I have to think the Wolves will go in another direction, especially with the unreal rash of injuries they’ve dealt with this season. I think Mozgov and Johnson are the interesting names on your list, with Johnson as maybe sneaky-good behind Pek with Rubio. (Dalembert is done.) It’s a deep big man draft, so maybe the Wolves look there.
    Oh, and the Birdman would most certainly touch you back.

    • @David Fernandez: I’m especially interested in Johnson. I think he’s underrated and would bring a new dimension of toughness and D that we haven’t had. Will be interesting to see if he ends up on the Wolves’ radar this offseason. [Agree with you on Dalembert, btw.]

  3. Dave A.

    Andy, where will Kevin Love be playing next season? He demands a high salary, got sideways with Wolves’ GM, and was injured most of this season. His appeal to local fans is probably 50-50. With an improved Williams at the four position, now might be the time to unload him and keep Pek. What do you think?

    • I haven’t heard or read anything to suggest he’ll be playing anywhere but Minnesota. If he is moved, I hope it isn’t with the idea that Williams is his replacement. That’s a huge dropoff. If Love is traded, I’d hope it brings back a good power forward (and probably something else). Ryan Anderson would be a good fit here on a better contract, to name one possibility. But again, I don’t expect that to happen, or want it to, unless the deal is pretty sweet and/or the team knows something I don’t (Love hates Minnesota/makes clear his plans to leave in 2015, etc).

      • Some kind of deal that involves Love + filler for Ryan Anderson (who is being criminally misused and isn’t even *starting* on NOLA) and Eric Gordon (who’s on the trading block, according to league sources) would be music to my ears. Imagine stacking the weak side with those two whilst running pick ‘n rolls with Rubio and Pek…

        • Eric in Madison

          Good god. Replace Love with someone who is a) much worse, and b) on a bad contract, and c) generally less healthy just for the right to downgrade to Ryan Anderson?
          Eric Gordon is not an asset.

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