Tampering Week: Greg Oden

After a 24-58 season, the New Jersey Nets will have to make some changes heading into 2012. This week, Nets are Scorching takes a closer look at some soon-to-be-available names.

Career Stats (DNP in 2010-2011): 82 G, 60 GS, 23.9 MPG, 9.4 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 0.6 APG, 0.4 SPG, 1.4 BPG, .577 FG%, .666 FT%, 117 ORtg, 23.14 PER in 2009–2010

Why Billy King Should Be Texting Him Right Now: Greg Oden is such an interesting case. We have seen so little of him, but when he has managed to suit up, he has been an absolute behemoth on the court on a per-minute basis. Oden put up astronomical levels of efficiency in his first two seasons for a player that young, and were it not for Kevin Durant’s amazing advancement, those numbers would be worthy of the No. 1 pick used by Portland to select him.

Off the bat, Oden wasn’t a major producer on offense, but he didn’t take bad shots and put up a fantastic field-goal percentage as a result. He has no range on his jump shot, but with time in the gym with a good bigs coach, he could develop a reliable post game on which to base his offense. His size allows him to be a solid screen-setter, and he has an affinity to grab boards on the offensive glass for easy second-chance opportunities.

On defense, Oden has all the tools to be an elite post defender. He has size, strength, and enough ups to block almost four shots every 40 minutes of playing time. He won’t be outmuscled on the glass, denying opposing teams multiple-possession trips, and he won’t be afraid to give hard fouls, a problem that plagued the Nets this season.

When Oden is on the court, he performs to a level totally worth a spot in a starting five. Alas …

Don’t Risk The Fine: Unfortunately, this signing would likely be an exercise in how to waste money. Thus far in his career, Oden has played exactly a quarter of games for which he was eligible, giving new meaning to injury proneness. His knees are greater liabilities than Eddy Curry’s appetite, and there is no reason to believe he’ll ever suit up for a full 82 games, not to mention the playoffs the Nets are hoping for.

Oden certainly wouldn’t carry the price tag of an elite player, but the offer he signs could be around $5 million or $6 million per season, too hefty a number for the Nets to invest in a player that doesn’t even bother changing out of the suit he wears on the sidelines during games. Even if he can stay healthy for a full season, he will be on a meticulously monitored minutes limit, and the Nets wouldn’t be able to extract optimal value out of him.

Oh, and they also have Brook Lopez. The only player worth shelving him for is still in Orlando.

And The Winner Is … Avoid: If I were Billy King, I would need to see overwhelming evidence that Oden isn’t going to be out for the season again before I even consider going to the negotiating table with him. And if I do, I insist the deal be only partially guaranteed, with incentives based on games and minutes played. Reality is, though, that he won’t sign with the Nets if those are the conditions. That’s why they shouldn’t even trifle with the former top pick.