It’s no secret the 2011-12 Boston Celtics are a weak rebounding team with hardly an intimidator on the roster. It’s also no secret that the Celtics will begin rebuilding in ernest once the season ends, and that Danny Ainge will attempt to make a splash or two during the upcoming free agent sweepstakes. When you take those ingredients and mix them together, you have the recipe for something I like to call Oden Pie. What, you ask, is Oden Pie? You sit it out for two years, you know that it could be bad for you, and it’s still to tempting to ignore.
Ainge will find himself staring at a healthy dose of Oden Pie this summer, as Greg Oden becomes an unrestricted free agent with a ton of potential and even more question marks. That happens when you only play 82 games after being drafted first overall in the 2007 NBA Draft. You’re supposed to be the Second Coming of Bill Russell, and you’re suddenly the next Sam Bowie. Ouch! The man has had microfracture surgery on both his right (once) and left knees (twice), and he’s also broken his left kneecap. Averages of 9.4 points and 7.3 boards don’t exactly scream franchise savior, either.
So yes, there will be much fear and trepidation when teams size up Oden’s potential this summer. You can bet the Miami Heat will take a long look, and you know that Pat Riley can be a persuasive individual. And what’s not to like about playing in Miami, potentially coming off the bench to help James, Bosh and Wade start racking up championship banners?
Don’t think that’s going to stop Ainge from thinking long and hard about making a run at the oft-injured big man. It’s a big-time gamble, and selling Oden on a Boston rebuilding job will pale in comparison to what’s going on down in Miami. At least the Celtics will have the cash to make a move if they so desire. That’s got to count for something. But if Ainge goes after Oden and over-pays, and Oden is injured again and can’t play…or possibly has to retire…then the Celtics’ rebuilding effort takes a monster hit.
But if the gamble works out and Oden can stay healthy, then the Celtics will have the big man in the middle that they’ve lacked since the Perkins trade last season. The perfect building block. And that’s not a bad place to start, especially if the C’s can re-sign Brandon Bass and make a couple of other solid moves to restructure this team.
Okay, back to the real world – it’s highly unlikely Oden will ever play in the league again, and if he does it’s doubtful he’ll be the building block for any team’s championship aspirations. His knees just won’t allow him to play, and he’s facing an incredibly long road back to the NBA. Which brings us full circle to the Heat. If Oden is healthy enough to contribute, he may be the perfect fit for a Heat team loaded with All-Stars.
As for the Celtics, Ainge will probably pass on Oden Pie in any form or fashion, and instead focus on the meat and potatoes of the rebuilding job in front of him. Hey, wait – maybe Ainge can convince Robert Parish to come out of retirement!