NBA AM: Greg Oden Drawing NBA Interest
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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Former Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden, the number one overall pick in the 2007, has not played in the NBA since 2010 due to a variety of serious knee injuries. He should be six seasons into his career by now, but unfortunately those injuries have robbed Oden of all but 82 games. However, a comeback could be in store for the big man who was once viewed as a lock for greatness after a dominant high school career and an impressive freshman season at Ohio State that included a run to the national championship game.
The plan has been for Oden to miss this season and try to catch on with a team this summer if he is 100 percent healthy. A market is already starting to form for him and amongst the teams interested is the Boston Celtics.
“Yeah, so we’re monitoring Greg like all the NBA teams are, but we have not attempted to sign him” Ainge said in his weekly interview on WEEI in Boston. “But, we are monitoring him and having conversations with his people just to see where he’s at.
“I don’t think (he’d be ready to play this year). I don’t know any of that for sure, but I would suspect that anybody that would sign him would have their eyes looking more towards his contribution in the future than now.”
As Ainge alluded to, the Celtics are not alone in their interest in Oden. Oden isn’t a former top pick without reason; he was once full of potential with the tools to be a high-caliber center in a league where true big man play is sorely lacking.
The Miami HEAT, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers are all keeping an eye on him as well since this is a scenario where the reward far outweighs the risk.
“I think that there’s been stretches, very few stretches, where he’s played excellent ball,” Ainge said. “He’s been a terrific defender and a fantastic offensive rebounder and just a real big, strong presence on the inside. I think that he’s been that.
“I think there will be competition and that everybody is looking to roll the dice and take a chance on a big guy. So, yeah, there’s definitely competition.”
At this point Oden no longer has to worry about living up to the expectations of being a top pick and having the weight of a franchise on his shoulders. Just lasting through an entire season would be an impressive feat for him now. The key for Oden along with staying healthy is getting him back in basketball shape. That is going to require a lot of hard work and dedication from him, but there are plenty of big men who want to play in the league but aren’t getting any serious looks. Luckily for Oden, he is. His NBA career is still salvageable, but this next shot could be his last.
Mike Brown Speaks: Former Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown has been silent since being fired by the team five games into the regular season. Since his departure the team has continued to struggle mightily, but that’s a small consolation prize at best for Brown, who spoke publicly for the first time about his firing recently.
“First of all, I don’t care where you work in or anybody you work for, nobody wants to be let go at any time,” Brown said on the Dan Lebatard Show. “Don’t get that wrong. Thing about it is I get paid very good money and part of it is to deal with the public pressure that comes along with the job, in my opinion, and that’s one of them. When I went and told my sons, they were probably more upset than I was and even embarrassed, too, but the things you gotta go through because I am in the public eye, everyone is going to have their opinion on it. People go through this every day. People get their lives altered and ruined or whatever you wanna call it on a daily basis, so I don’t look at myself being any different. Ownership and management felt they wanted to go in another direction, which is their choice. That is their job. They decided to do that and from there, I am able to move to the next thing.”
When Brown was fired everyone thought Phil Jackson returning was a mere formality. There was mutual interest between the two parties, but ultimately the Lakers decided to go with Mike D’Antoni, which also surprised Brown along with the rest of Laker fans.
“If they did have an opportunity to get Phil, you would think that would be the direction they would go,” Brown said. “He’s a guy that obviously has won more championships than anybody in the history of the game and he’s brought a lot of success to the organization and if you thought they had an opportunity to get that guy … I was just like everybody else. You would think that was the direction they were going to go. I know Mike D’Antoni, never having worked with him. He is a good coach. He’s had success in the past. You understand to a certain degree, because he’s coached Steve Nash, and so the relationship is there and Steve is going to be there for the next three years no matter what. There’s some things with the hiring of Mike that you understand because of the dynamics of the team or the makeup of the team, starting with a guy who’s going to be there for the next three years in Steve Nash.”
D’Antoni’s offense and familiarity with Nash were obviously big reasons behind his hiring. Brown’s offense really came under fire as he was heavily criticized for using the Princeton offense, but Brown says that was a serious misconception.
“This is the sad part about it,” Brown said. “If anybody knows basketball that understood it and watched basketball and knows basketball, they would have saw that even the ‘Princeton offense’ or the thing they saw that we were doing wasn’t the Princeton offense. You could talk to Pete Carril and his head would probably be spinning 360 degrees and a million times a minute trying to explain to somebody what we were doing. It wasn’t the Princeton offense. Now what we were doing probably a third of it was the Princeton offense, another third of it was the exact same thing that we did strong — depending where the ball went — and the last third of it was initiated by a spread pick and roll, which is basically what the Lakers are doing right now.
“There were three parts to our offense and the last part of it, that was part of the Princeton. The Princeton offense has seven or eight different parts and the part we used of it was just the low-post part. There are different actions when you have a great low-post player because we wanted to be able to move Dwight Howard around and get him some different looks after ball reversals and dribbles and handoffs, with him dunking on the weak side. That’s the only part we used. It’s called the ‘Low Post.’ We had ‘Low Post’ in. We had ‘Strong’ in, which is the same thing we ran last year and what San Antonio runs with Tim Duncan. And we had an early-shape pick and roll, which is what Steve Nash did in Phoenix. Depending on the pick and roll, Steve would go make a play. If he made a pass in a certain direction, then we were in ‘Low Post.’ If he made a pass in the other direction, it put us into ‘Strong.’ That’s basically what our offense was.”
Brown and his offense may not have gotten a fair shake, but we probably have not seen the last of him as a head coach in the NBA. Everyone realizes that he was up against unrealistic expectations with the Lakers that they haven’t even come close to achieving without him. Brown is still thought pretty highly of around the league, but he’ll likely be very patient and wait for the right situation to come along before making a return to coaching.
Landry Trying To Shoot His Way To The League: As Golden State Warriors forward Carl Landry continues to have a productive NBA career, his younger brother Marcus is still trying to break into the league long-term. Marcus, who played out of position at Wisconsin in college, has completely changed his game since graduating in 2009. Once thought of as an undersized big man, he’s now successfully made the transition into a full-time perimeter player who is actually one of the premier three-point shooters in the Development League. HOOPSWORLD caught up with Landry at the 2013 D-League Showcase to talk about the keys to his development and he mentions one of the all-time great shooters as an intricate part of it in this video interview.
NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats on schedule for today. I’m up first at 11 a.m. est, you can get your questions into me here. Next up, Alex Kennedy will get you caught up on all things related to the NBA and the trade deadline. Get your questions in here now because Alex’s chats fill up quickly.