The New Orleans Pelicans expect to meet with free agent center Greg Oden this week and could be "poised to make an offer close to $3 million," Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears reports. The deal would presumably be for one year, though it could include options to provide the team with possible added value.
For Oden, agreeing to a deal with New Orleans could signify the beginning of a new era for both his career and the franchise. As the Pelicans begin their first season under the nickname, adding a former once-in-a-generation prospect seems like the kind of medium-risk, high-reward move befitting a franchise entering its next chapter.
Still, what Oden will actually be able to offer a team on the court is quite uncertain. Arguably the best big man prospect since Dwight Howard, the former No. 1 overall pick simply never showed an ability to handle the workload of an NBA contributor, let alone the superstar he was once projected to be.
That potential still has teams lining up to speak with Oden, though, even after numerous surgeries and nearly three years away from the game. At the ripe age of 25, he's still well within reach of an actual NBA career should he be able to stay healthy.
For a team like New Orleans, that health risk essentially explains the entire deal. Someone of Oden's talent doesn't come this cheap without the risk, but one imagines the Pelicans are protecting their investment to some degree through the inclusion of non-guaranteed money and/or team options.
If Oden can stay healthy, pairing him with another former top pick in Anthony Davis could give New Orleans a truly intimidating frontcourt, particularly on the defensive end. And should his body fail to cooperate, the Pelicans are only down a few million bucks.
After trading Nerlens Noel and a 2014 draft pick for Jrue Holiday earlier this year, the Pelicans showed they're not interested in complacency or being risk-averse. Signing Oden would simply be another extension of that emerging philosophy.